A Reflection on Matthew 2:1-12
By: Larry T
For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him,
the Virgin Mother longed for him
with love beyond all telling,
John the Baptist sang of his coming
and proclaimed his presence when he came.
– The Roman Missal, Third Edition, Preface II of Advent
By 7 B.C. the Jews had been subject to Roman domination for nearly seventy years, and from the beginning of Roman rule they had prayed desperately to God for the advent of a new Jewish king. Suddenly there he was – the king of the Jews was born.
1 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,
2 saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
3 When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
8 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.”
9 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.
10 They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
11 and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. – Matthew 2:1-12 N.A.B.
But, what kind of king would Jesus be? The Jewish people had been praying fervently for a great warrior king who would overthrow the Romans, reunite the twelve ancient tribes of Israel, reestablish the Davidic kingdom, and return the Jewish nation to its former glory. The king they were anxiously awaiting was expected to do all of these things and more. They wanted a messiah on their own terms, but since Jesus failed to meet their expectations, they rejected him.
What about us? What kind of King is Jesus to us - to me - to you? While atheists reject Jesus outright and some other religions recognize Jesus as simply a prophet, I am a Christian and he is my King. Still yet, do I genuinely accept Jesus as my King, and do I accept all of His commandments, or have I molded him into a reflection of what I want him to be rather than who he is? If I choose to reject one or more of his commandments can I expect a wink, a nod, and a smile from him? Haven’t Christians been tripped up by this sort of self-deception from the very beginning?
We’ve seen the same sort of distorted thinking recently applied to Pope Francis. From the very beginning of his papacy various misguided special interest groups and media have misquoted him in such a way as to serve their own interests. They make him a reflection of what they want him to be rather than who he is to serve their own purposes.
As we continue to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we might reflect on these two questions: Do I truly accept Jesus as my King? And do I accept all of His commandments?