Where is the Newborn King?

Where is the Newborn King

Where is the newborn king? This was the question that drove the Magi on their long journey. They were wise, so they went to the most logical place to find the newborn king of the Jews, the holy city of Jerusalem- but unfortunately it was the wrong place!

When in Jerusalem they inquired, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” (Mat 2:2) King Herod heard of their quest and was troubled. So he met with the Magi to ascertain from them what time the star had appeared.

Herod gave the Magi the information that the new king had been prophesized to be born in Bethlehem. He sent them off saying “go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (Mat 2:8) This of course was a lie; he did not want to worship the new king, but destroy him.

The Magi continued their mission to find the new king with the star leading them. They were overjoyed when the star “came to rest over the place where the child was.” (Mat 2:9) They rejoiced when they finally found who they had been looking for.

The king they were looking for had been born in a stable; a crude and unexpected place for someone of royalty. The king was born into a poor, simple family. Yet the Magi hailed him, and fell down and worshiped him, offering him their gifts.

The wise men initially looked for Jesus in the wrong place, just as we do sometimes. We seek in the wrong places too! We think our spouse, a job promotion, a dream vacation, a bigger house, a smaller waist, popularity, etc. will fill our emptiness. We sometimes get drawn into the impressiveness of “Jerusalem” and lose sight of the star-the light of our true pathway.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Only in God will (man) find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” (27) To find the joy the Magi found, to experience deep happiness and peace, we need to keep our focus on the star; the true light from our Lord. Know that he can be found in the most unexpected corners of our world!

And if we make a “wrong turn” as the Magi did, don’t give up. Keep seeking the divine. “Because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.” (CCC 27) Another way to say it is that we have an internal homing device, placed there in our hearts by God, and he never stops drawing us to him; just as the Magi were drawn by the star to Jesus.

Our Lord is calling-we need to keep focus and be diligent in our search; and upon finding him, rejoice! Honor him, and give him our gifts.

To close, I want to pose an interesting question regarding this piece Where is the Newborn King? The Magi found the newborn king in a most unexpected place, so I ask you, if Jesus was born today, where do you think he would be born?

Make a New Year’s Resolution with the Holy Family

Holy Family into Egypt

If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet, or even if you have, the Holy Family has something to offer you. This year, New Year’s Eve happened to fall on the Feast of the Holy Family, which provided an excellent opportunity for me to reflect on this humble family, and to consider what they can teach us regarding the resolutions we usually make.

As I thought about the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and all they went through, one thing kept coming back to my mind over and over again. A virtue that I noticed they all possessed. A quality that seems to be lacking in our world, and something that God has challenged me personally to work on. It is something most people don’t like, and it is usually considered a vice rather than a virtue. What is it you may wonder? What trait did all members of the Holy Family have, but we need to work on? Obedience. It is the virtue of obedience.

Ouch! The word has a bite to it I know. Mainly because we value our individual freedom and independence. We want to do things our way. We ask selfish questions such as “Is this in my best interest?” Or “What’s in it for me?” Imagine if Mary told the Angel Gabriel that becoming pregnant before she was married to Joseph was not in her best interest? Or if Joseph told God after the angel visited him in a dream that there was nothing beneficial for him in this big mess and that he was bailing ship? Even though what was happening to them didn’t make sense, they trusted in the Lord and obeyed.

Mary’s words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to our word.” (Lk1:38) is a beautiful example of obedience. She obeyed “blindly,” having faith that God knew what was best. And Joseph gives us a good example of immediate obedience. After Jesus was born, an angel came to him in a dream at night and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you: for Herod is about to search for the child and destroy him.” (Mt 2:13) Joseph rose and took Jesus and Mary immediately out by night on the long journey to Egypt.

Jesus also showed obedience in his childhood- to Mary and Joseph, and then on into his adulthood. For example, when Jesus was experiencing tremendous agony in the garden before his crucifixion. He pleads with his heavenly Father “If you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless, not my will be done, but yours.” Lk (22:42) Not my will be done, but yours. That was the prevalent motto of the Holy Family. Accepting the will of God with total obedience to their Father.

The Holy Family is a model for us to imitate. Obedience is something we can all work on. So, I invite you to join me in working on obedience in 2018. It won’t be easy, but with help from the Holy Family we can grow in this virtue. One way to bring the virtue of obedience with you into this new year is to reflect on something that you struggle with obeying. Maybe you struggle with following a teaching of the faith. You just don’t “get it,” or you think that following the teaching is not really in your “best interest.” Your prayer can be God, it is hard for me to be obedient. Please help me to trust like Joseph. Help me to say yes like Mary, and help me to do your will like Jesus.

Or maybe this New Year instead of asking yourself, “What can I do to become a better person this year?” Why not ask God, “Lord, what do you want me to do this year to become a better person?” Yes, ask him to let you know what New Year’s resolution you should make! Then listen; be attentive. He will let you know.

Truth be told, saying YES to God’s plan and saying no to your own plan is difficult. It is a yes to love, but also a yes to sacrifice and hardship. It will be hard to confront our seemingly unyielding defiance towards obedience. So prayer; the quiet listening kind, like in silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, is paramount in this undertaking. If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to God’s grace, then amazing things will happen. For his plans for us are way, way bigger and better than any plans that we can create or imagine for ourselves.

Know that if you make a New Year’s resolution with the Holy Family regarding obedience, you will have the best teachers in the world as your companions through these next 12 months. And though it will be a demanding and challenging journey, take to heart what the angel told Mary-it is a message for all of us. That “nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) With God being the key words. We can’t do this on our own.

May God shower us with grace as we strive to grow in this virtue.

Have a blessed (and obedient) New Year everyone!

Stretch Out Your Arms

Stretch Out Your Arms

One of my favorite things about going to Mass during the Christmas season is seeing the nativity set. My most favorite piece, the one that always mesmerizes me, is the infant Jesus.

The infant Jesus at our church has his arms extended – reaching out with love to embrace us – as if the baby already knows his role. His arms reaching out to serve, his hands ready to heal. The young arms of this child will grow and stretch out on a cross to show us how much he loves us. The tiny hands of this babe will have bloody holes in them to save us. That’s what I always saw. The beautiful Christ Child reaching out to me and showering me with his love.   A love that I joyfully accepted, but usually kept for myself.

Then, a few years ago, it changed.

No, they did not change the nativity set. All the figures and the baby Jesus were the exact ones they had always used. But this particular Christmas I saw something different when I looked at the Christ Child with his arms outstretched.

Infant Jesus looked at me and pleaded with me, “Will you embrace me? I need you to pick me up and love me.”  The “me” I realized he was referring to was all those in my life who I was struggling with loving. Jesus wanted me to embrace his love, and then share it with others. The Baby was inviting me to change; to stretch out and give his love to those who needed it most.

So consider this when looking upon the infant Jesus in the manger this Christmas:

  • Yes! Embrace and accept his love, but don’t stop there….
  • Ask yourself–Who does that meek and helpless baby represent? Who in my life needs me to embrace them with the love of the Christ Child?
  • Then stretch out your arms and ask for the grace to do it.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!