Matthew 2:1-12
We Have Come to Worship Him by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Herald"

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Matthew wrote to show that Christ was the
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."  When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel." 

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child.  When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage."  After their audience with the king they set out.  And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.  They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of god, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

I was privileged to attend World Youth Day this past summer in Cologne, Germany, with Pope Benedict and nearly 1 million young Catholics from around the world.  A major stop along the way was the Cathedral of Cologne which houses relics of the three Magi.  The theme of the 20th WYD was "We have come to worship Him."  It was a marvelous time of grace and joy for me, the students from Marymount and the rest of the pilgrims from the Diocese of Arlington.  My reflection today was inspired by this pilgrimage and the young people who made it with me.

The visit of the Magi is a gem in the Gospel of Matthew, which teaches us so much about our Christian faith.  It proclaims boldly the divinity of Christ, reminds us that the Good News of Jesus Christ was intended for the whole world and teaches us about the true worship of God.  It is the latter point I want to focus on today.

The Magi made it clear upon their arrival in Jerusalem that they were seeking the newborn king of the Jews and had "come to do him homage."  Their arduous journey had brought them to God and now they wanted to worship Him.  Their single-hearted focus represents the Christian belief that every human being is called - by our very nature as God's children and by God's greatness - to seek God's face and to offer Him fitting worship.  That the Magi traveled such a great distance proclaims the fact that sometimes the satisfaction of our duty to worship requires great sacrifice.

Matthew highlights the three Magi's great joy at seeing the star that led them to Christ the King.  It is so important that the worship we render to God be a joyful gift to the Lord.  I find it exciting to be around people who really want to worship God.  They have an energy, a focus and a joy that is contagious.  Their reverence and prayerfulness invite others to join in the homage that  is owed to God by human beings.

Worship should be something we long to do as opposed to something we dread.  The joyful worship of God by the young people throughout our pilgrimage to Cologne was one of the highlights of the trip for me and the other adults who attended.  Watching young people pray fervently, drop to their knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, sing joyfully at Mass and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with intensity at the Concentration Camp in Berchanau would ignite the flame of faith in most people of good will.

Clearly, our worship must include moments in our day when we break from our usual routine to praise God.  These moments include attending Mass, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, prayer meetings, personal prayer in the quiet of our rooms and grace before meals.  God deserves this homage because He is our Creator and Redeemer.

However, we must press beyond acts of worship and begin to live lives of worship.  We worship God by choosing to follow Christ when the way is not easy, when we decide to forgive someone who has hurt us, when we faithfully fulfill the simple duties that make family life run smoothly, when we go an extra mile in the service of our neighbor.  Proper worship of God means choosing each day to give glory to God with lives modeled after the life of his Son, Jesus.

We have so much to learn from the three Magi from the East, who make a brief by powerful appearance in the Gospel of Matthew.  May we imitate them by diligently seeking the face of God, falling prostrate and rendering Him homage, and joyfully offering him the gift of a life lived in loving service of our neighbor.

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