Jesus avoids a trap while offering us a way to live within the tensions between this world and the next. The solution: seek God first. With Christ as our guide we keep our eyes fixed on Heaven, as we make our way here on earth.
The Lord reminds us of two important facts: first, we will encounter tough times for the sake of the Gospel; second, we will be given the grace we need to face them. May the light of Jesus Christ shine in our hearts during dark moments as we seek to follow the Lord through this life.
The world can be a dangerous place where we encounter struggles that test us to the limit. Today we are reminded that we are not alone; in the order of creation God’s angels are among us, and some of them are appointed to help us in times of need. Among them the archangels are God’s “heavy hitters” who remind us to call for help when times are tough.
Jesus heals a child that could not be helped by this disciples. Why? Their faith was not strong enough. As the disciples sought to strengthen their faith we can learn from them, training our “spiritual muscles” to become strong as we turn to the Lord for wisdom, strength and guidance.
Philip took time to instruct the Ethiopian eunuch about the book of the prophet Isaiah, which led to his conversion and baptism. Every day we have opportunities to share our faith and help guide others so that they can grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.
On the mountain Jesus is transfigured, appearing to three disciples as he stands in Heaven. His transfiguration offers us hope, that as we carry our crosses and face the challenges of life we will have the strength and guidance we need.
1st Reading – The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light
Psalm – “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
2nd Reading – Agree in what you say, and let there be no divisions among you
Gospel – John the Baptist dies, and Jesus embarks on his public ministry
The 1st reading from the prophet Isaiah, the Psalm, and the Gospel of Matthew all reference light and darkness. The imagery speaks to us on many levels:
Light is necessary for sight
Light brings comfort and consolation
Light is a sign of God’s grace and presence
And yet we know that darkness is also part of our existence. In our modern world we often do all that we can to drive the darkness away, but if you have ever been out in the country (away from all the city lights) you begin to get a sense of what most people were acquainted with through human history.
Things hide in the dark. Crime often occurs in the dark. Fear, anxiety, worry and distress often increase in the darkness. While the darkness is not bad in itself, we often associate it with many challenges and concerns that form the landscape of our our hearts.
Today we hear once again how God’s light casts out all darkness. God’s grace offers us hope, peace, and strength to face the darkness of life with conviction and trust. We know that life is not easy; we face our burdens confident that the Lord will light our way.
Where is the darkness in your life right now? Face it with the light of Jesus Christ! Let the Lord’s light shine in our hearts and lives, offering us the wisdom and direction we need to live our faith today.
There are several wonderful points for reflection in this well known gospel reading:
The Magi who come from the East
A star that guides them
The perplexity of King Herod and all Jerusalem
The fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah (“And you Bethlehem…”)
The plot of King Herod
The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh
The warning of the Magi in a dream not to return to Herod
The word epiphany means “to shine upon” and it is the illumination of this story – by starlight, prophecy, gifts, and foreign wisdom – that help us see how God works in our world.
The birth of Christ brings light by which people begin to see the Lord. We are no longer in darkness! What’s more, this light is available to all peoples…for the prophecy of Micah in the Jewish tradition and the study of the stars guide the Magi to Jesus.
This light continues to shine in our world today. God’s grace casts out darkness and brings light to guide us as we seek to follow the Lord through the cares and worries of daily life. May we seek out the Lord’s light for our lives, and help others to be directed in faith to find Jesus Christ.