Falling on their knees, they worshiped him

Matthew 2, 1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea,  during the time of King Herod,  Magi  from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east  and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 

 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ  was to be born.   “In Bethlehem  in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:  “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ’”

 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route

The Magi came from the East, a place that evoked among Jews the home of astrology and other mysterious sciences. They are pagans who do  not know the Holy Scriptures of Israel, but only too well the language of the stars. They are looking for the truth and set out to find it. Guided by the draw of the mysterious, they  feel the need to “worship”.

Their presence causes a flutter in all Jerusalem. The Magi have seen a new star whcih makes them think that a “king of the Jews” has been born and they have come to “worship” him. This king is not Caesar Augustus. Neither is he  Herod. Where is he? They seek an answer.

Herod was “startled”. The news does not make him very happy. Rome has appointed him “King of the Jews”. The newborn king must be done away with. Where is this strange rival? The “chief priests and scribes” know the Scriptures and know that he will be born in Bethlehem, but they do not care about the child nor do they set out to worship him.

This is what Jesus will find throughout his life: hostility and rejection by the representatives of political power, indifference and resistance in religious leaders. Only those who seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness will welcome him.

The Magi continued their long search. Sometimes the star that guides them leaves them in uncertainty. At other times, it shines again filling them with “great joy.” Finally they find the Child, and “falling on their knees, worship him.” Then they place at his service  the wealth they have and the most valuable treasures they possess. This child can count on them as they recognize him as their King and Lord.

In its apparent simplicity, this story presents us with crucial questions: before whom do we kneel in worship? Which is the God  we worship in the depths of our beings? We call ourselves Christians, but do we live worshipping the Child of Bethlehem? Do we place at his feet our wealth and our prosperity? Are we ready to heed his call to enter the kingdom of God and His righteousness? In our lives there is always a star that guides us towards Bethlehem.


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