Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Catholic Defender: Until Judgment We Must Endure

The Wise Men came bearing gifts of gold, Frankincense and myrrh. They traveled for many months following a star fulfilling the words of Isaiah:

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and think darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you,and his glory will be seen upon you. And Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms. Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian, and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord." (Isaiah 60:1-6)

The gold was the standard gift for a King. The Frankincense was an incense for worship. And Myrrh was used to embalm bodies of those who died. This would be important, especially in aiding Joseph to pay for their escape to Egypt. We know that the Holy Family went to Jerusalem for the Presentation, they traveled to Nazareth, then fled to Egypt escaping King Herod

From the birth until the wise men arrived bearing these gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, St. Joseph moved from the cave or stable to perhaps a relatives house.

Since Bethlehem was the City of Joseph's heritage (David), it's probable that Joseph had relatives present in Bethlehem so he was able to make this move.

The star continued to shine over Bethlehem for another 5 more days. At any rate, Matthew 2:11 indicates that when the wise men did arrive, they entered the house where Mary and the Child was.

When did the wise men actually arrive at the place where Jesus and Mary were resting? There is a short window following this star for five days.

I think this event had to occur between 25 December and very early 1 January. I tend to think it would have been later than sooner because what happens next. Matthew states that the Wise men (magi) camped for the night and beheld a dream.

God warns the magi not to return to Herod, but to go another route out of the Country. This dream had to be important because as the magi were leaving Joseph received a dream from an angel saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herold is going to search for the child to destroy him" (Matthew 2:13).

I do not see St. Joseph waiting around to see what happens, they leave Bethlehem immediately. I think that the Magi's visit and Joseph's departure would be the same evening. This probably would be the night of 31 December or very early 1 January.

The Lord made provision down to the detail for the birth of Jesus. Likewise, we who are followers of the King of Kings, until Judgment, we must endure and the Lord has given us provision to escape the darkness of this world. The Catholic Church is celebrating the "Year of Faith" to inspire us to hold fast to the Faith of the Apostles.

Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Through faith, we can trust the provisions the Lord has given to help us in times of trouble. Like the Wise Men following a star to fulfill a prophecy, we to can shine His light from within us as we travel through stormy seas.

According to Gaudium et Spes, the Catholic Church is saying, "Such is the mystery of man, and it is a great one, as seen by believers in the light of Christian revelation. Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us".

Let us too bring gold (royalty), Frankincense (worship), and myrrh (the transformation of the old-self to our new birth-baptism) to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

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