https://svdppetaluma.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/svdp_logo-2.png 0 0 Fr. Bill Donahue https://svdppetaluma.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/svdp_logo-2.png Fr. Bill Donahue2024-01-06 19:13:422024-01-06 19:17:01Pastor’s Desk ~ January 7, 2024
Dear Fellow Parishioners,
Just as Advent came and went so quickly, so the Christmas season will end in a couple of days, with the Feast of Baptism of the Lord on Monday, January 8th. But before we return to Ordinary Time after Monday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany, which is the revelation of Jesus as Light to the Nations. as symbolized by the visit of the Three Magi, bearing precious gifts.
Many traditional nativity scenes tend, for the sake of convenience, to combine two separate events: the Adoration of the Shepherds (which happened at Jesus’s birth, and is the subject of the Gloria we pray at nearly every Sunday Mass) and the Adoration of the Magi (which was a separate event, commemorated by the Epiphany). The interval between these two events – i.e.: the birth of Jesus and the visit of the Magi – is not clear. Some traditions suggests that the visit of the Magi could have been as late as two winters after Jesus’ birth, given that Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents included boys up to the age of two.
As for the biblical accounts, the Magi appear only in the Gospel of Matthew, where they are described as nameless “visitors from the east” coming to “worship the king of the Jews.” That they came from the east was significant, as the “east” was also the place of the sun’s rising, the source of every new day and possibility. Thus, the familiar biblical phrase “from the rising of the sun to its setting” means not only the physical distance from far east to far west, but also the time “between sunup to sundown.”
The names of the Three Magi – Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazzar – appear nowhere in the Gospels but come from other early sources. Nor was there universal agreement as to the number of Magi, since (for example) the Syrian Christian tradition holds that there were twelve. The general consensus of three Magi is consistent with the number of precious gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh. However the group of the Magi were counted, they almost
certainly did not travel alone. Three dignitaries of any stature would not have carried precious gifts over long distances without a significant entourage and security detail. (Would you walk through any large American city at midnight, well-dressed, with a Rolex and a wallet full of cash?)
The Baptism of the Lord goes hand-in-hand with the Epiphany, as it is the beginning of what we could call the beginning of Jesus’ public life in the Gospels of Mark and John, which have no Infancy Narrative (and therefore no Magi). After the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, we return to Ordinary Time and meet once again the adult Jesus.
Finally, I would like to wish you and your families a happy, healthy and blessed New Year. I am one of the increasingly few people who still uses a year-long written calendar to book appointments, rather than a Smart Phone or other device that is much more like a treadmill, one year running seamlessly into the next. One advantage of the paper calendar is that once the year is over, I can put it away and start with a fresh new calendar. A big part of life is
timing. Rather than seeing time as an adversary that must be struggled against at all costs, we might do better to think of time as God’s blessed way of keeping everything from happening at once. This may be a good time to set aside any anxiety or brooding over the year now past and gone forever, and invest ourselves fully in everything that is once again new.
Fr. Bill Donahue