Tomorrow we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men with their gifts to the newborn King. As we see from the first reading this was an event the Israelites had been waiting for, for a very long time. The book of Isaiah was written sometime near the 7th century, and even more ancient, the 72nd Psalm is attributed to King Solomon, over nine hundred years before the birth of Christ. How the people longed for these events to occur. They had been waiting centuries to see God's Messiah come to them, for the King from on High to come into their presence and liberate them from the enemy.
How intriguing it is that when the Wise Men arrive at Herod's palace with the question, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?”, instead of joy we find Herod and all of Jerusalem becoming troubled. Here is just one event prophesied about the future Kingdom, and instead of finding joy and faith, we find them anxious and worried. Herod calls his own 'wise' men to him and they tell him exactly where he is to be born. Yet, Herod still isn't able to find him on his own.
It's strange isn't it? These men in the court of the King know the scripture in and out. They know exactly where the newborn King should be, and have been told by these foreigners that He has been born. Yet, it doesn't record any of them running to greet the Messiah. Instead Herod asks the Magi to find them for him. We know that Herod wanted to kill him out of envy, and we see that later when he murders the Holy Innocents. What of all the scribes and chief priests? Why did they not run to find Jesus as well?
I think that is just one of the many lessons we can learn from these readings. Sometimes we aren't actually looking for Him. He's constantly sending messengers to us, sometimes from places we don't want them to be coming from. We are so convinced that we have it right, that we go our own way.. and even when God sends his messenger to us, we simply ignore it. Or we get angry and intend to do away with that new messenger. We shop for churches. We shop for new priests. We change religions. We reject this teaching or that.
The problem is that in doing so, we often reject the Holy Spirit. I think of Herod as a symbol for us men, for our fallen nature. He wants what we want.... power, success, pleasure. He is being offered a chance, along with all of his court, to instead truly seek God. Instead he chooses all of that over Christ. How often we do the same? When our Wise Men come pointing to Christ saying, He's been born... you know where he is, he's always been there... do you run to him?
Both the Wise Men and Herod received the same message. Legend has it all of them were kings, all of them wealthy, all powerful. All faced the same temptations. The Wise Men chose to seek Christ, Herod chose to seek the flesh. Which are you today? It isn't too late. He's here. You can find him every day in the Sacraments. In Confession. In the Eucharist. In Adoration of the blessed Sacrament. Do you realize how powerful that is? How beautiful? The Church is the Star that points to Christ's birth... will you seek Him? or reject the messenger?
His servant and yours,
"He must increase, I must decrease."