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Gospel for Friday, January 6: Matthew 2: 1-12

Epiphany of the Lord

1Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea at the time of King Herod. Some Magi came from the east to Jerusalem and asked:
2“Where is the King of the Jews who was born? We have seen his star rise, and we have come to worship him.” 3Upon hearing these words, King Herod was disturbed and with him all of Jerusalem. 4Gathering all the high priests and scribes of the people, he inquired from them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They answered him: “To Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written through the prophet: 6And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are not really the smallest chief town of Judah: for out of you shall come forth a leader who shall shepherd my people Israel.” 7Then Herod secretly called the Magi and had them tell him exactly the time when the star had appeared 8and sent them to Bethlehem exhorting them: “Go and inquire thoroughly about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I may also come and worship him.” 9Hearing the king’s words, they departed. And behold, the star, which they had seen in its rising, went before them, until it came and stood over the place where the child was. 10Upon seeing the star, they experienced great joy. 11As they entered the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and prostrating themselves they worshipped him. Then they opened their chests and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12Warned then in a dream not to return to Herod, by another route they returned to their country.

Mt 2: 1-12

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

The Feast of Epiphany announces the revelation of the Messiah to the nations. The word “Epiphany” means “manifestation”: Jesus is revealed to the nations. The page of the Magi is a solemn declaration of missionary outreach and universalism. This episode, placed at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, recalls the conclusion of the same Gospel: “Go and make disciples of me all nations…” (Mt 28:18). Two missionary pages that open and close the story of Christ, with a difference:

in the episode of the Magi it is the Gentiles arriving in Jerusalem, at the end of the Gospel it is the Church sent to the world: it is “the outgoing Church” of which Pope Francis often speaks to us, “going out to others to reach the human peripheries” (Evangelii gaudium, no. 46).

“Jesus was delivered by Mary, the poor daughter of Israel, and the shepherds, who flocked to the word addressed to them by the angel, saw “a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes laid in a manger” (cf. Lk 2:7, 12, 16). Born in Bethlehem, the city of David (cf. 1 Sam 16), Jesus is a descendant of David to whom the title of Messiah, of King of the Jews, belongs; but the very Gospel according to Matthew, so rooted in the Jewish milieu, makes it clear that Jesus is the Savior destined for all humanity and, therefore, his revelation is addressed to all nations, to the Gentiles, in whose descendants we too are placed… Yes, the universality of the good news is affirmed already at the moment of Jesus’ birth, and the episode of the Magi appears as a prophecy that will be fulfilled in the history of the church, when the Gospel will reach all cultures of peoples” (E. Bianchi).

Epiphany has therefore always had a missionary characterization in the Church, to the point that today we celebrate World Missionary Childhood Day. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reaffirmed, “The pilgrim Church is by its very nature missionary” (Ad gentes, no. 2); and it invited “each community… to widen the vast web of its charity to the ends of the earth, showing for those who are far off the same solicitude that it has for those who are its own members” (id., no. 37). Mission is thus a constitutive, integral part of the Church’s life, “inasmuch as it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she, according to the Father’s plan, derives her own origin” (Ad gentes, no. 2).

The Eucharist has had various names in the Churches. It is interesting to note that in Western terminology the missionary, sending aspect prevails: “Mass,” which literally means “sent,” “sent.” The word comes from the words that at the end of the celebration the priest would declare, “Ite, missa est,” meaning, “Go, (the Eucharist) has been sent (to the absent)” (N. Zingarelli), to the sick, to prisoners, to distant brethren… “It is called … ‘Holy Mass,’ because the Liturgy, in which the mystery of salvation was fulfilled, concludes with the sending of the faithful (‘missio’) so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives” (Catechism Catholic Church, no. 1332).

The Eucharist is not an intimate relationship with Christ, an end in itself. We are united with him and in him to then send us into the world, to make us his missionaries. “The Eucharistic banquet is never, as in the mystery cults, reserved for an elite of initiates, but … is essentially open and dynamic, reaching out to the invitation and communication of all for the salvation of the whole world” (Fr. Visentin). “The Eucharist stands as the source and at the same time as the summit of all evangelization, since its end is the communion of men with Christ and in Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit” (John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003, no. 22). “It is from the Eucharist that mission flows. If ‘mission’ is a ‘way of being’ modeled on Christ, it begins and moves precisely from that body given and that blood shed” (CEI, Communion and Missionary Community, no. 37). This is the dynamic of the sacrament: to be filled with the Lord in order to overflow to the brethren. “‘Do this in memory of me.’ One would think that these words are only about the formula of consecration. But Jesus never asked us to repeat them.

Instead, he asked us to do what he himself was doing at that moment. And that is to prepare himself to give his life for the salvation of the world… If our Eucharistic celebrations in the past have not been effective in transforming people’s lives, in making the faithful more committed to the work of Christ, perhaps it is because people have always thought that they should receive rather than give. The hands we extend, however, are not only to receive the body of Christ, but also to give it to others. This is the essence of the Christian mission” (Fr. Bernier).

As Mary reminds us in today’s Gospel, reaching out her hands, clasping the divine Child, to offer Him to these Pagans who came from the East.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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