Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Overwhelmed with joy

Sunday is the twelfth day of Christmas on which we remember the wise men coming to see Jesus. The Gospel reading for the weekend recounts their bringing gifts of gold, franckincense and myrrh. In writing on this passage, Katerina K Whitley preached in part,
After months of traveling through the desert, the magi arrive first at the palace in Jerusalem—they were expecting to find a king, after all, so the first place they think of is the palace—and thus give the shock of his life to Herod who, cunningly, sends them on to find this child. When they reach Bethlehem, do they feel disappointment to enter a humble household? Matthew says “they were overwhelmed with joy.” The Greek is even stronger: they rejoiced with an extreme joy.

Joseph Leyendecker's paintingThey see the child with his mother. She is holding him on her lap as they kneel and bend to touch their foreheads to the ground. What is Mary thinking when she sees the gifts they offer? Does she feel a premonition when she smells the myrrh, an herb used for burial? Later in her life, will she stand at the foot of the terrible cross remembering that beautiful visit and the premonition of his death?

We can only guess. We only know that something remarkable happened on that day when the far east and the near east came together. But the gift to us is that the visit of the magi reveals something else that has as much meaning for our lives today as it did in that first year of the first century. The rich and the poor mingle in harmony in this story. The rich don’t withhold from the poor; they offer not only necessities, but luxury and beauty. For a few minutes, there is a strong hint of the kingdom of God the grown Jesus would proclaim—peace on earth, good will toward all people, mercy to the poor—the acknowledgment of the full humanity of the poor, of women, and of children (which was an alien concept in the ancient world). The rich, the educated, the respected are kneeling before a child and a mother, in a poor hamlet in Bethlehem.

May that image stay with us to give balance to our thinking, to our lives.
The full text of her sermon is online here The Epiphany



Post a Comment

<< Home