“BLOOD, WATER, AND FLESH”
Saint Matthew 2. 1-12
The EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD (transferred)5 January Anno Domini 2014
Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
The wisdom of this age is foolishness. It was a devilish temptation for “knowledge” that doomed Eve and fell Adam and his kin. To “know” is not as important as to be known when it comes to the love of God in Christ Jesus. “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block and unto the Greeks foolishness.” [1 Cor. 1. 22-23]
The “wise men from the east” who came to Jerusalem were wise not because of their knowledge of the existence of Hebrew Scripture and Prophecy—but because they believed it to be true; they believed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be true. They believed in the truth of God’s promise of the coming Messiah. They believed that He was the One “born King of the Jews”…and of the Gentiles such as themselves.
The Magi did not come to Jerusalem for an exegetical conference or even an Israelite historical symposium—they had seen His star in the east, and simply told Herod “we have come…to worship Him.” But to worship means that the Holy Ghost makes one submissive and passive to receive the gifts of the One worshipped. True worship is not in giving money or obeisance, but in receiving Jesus’ Person and Work.
The only Wisdom is the Wisdom which is God. The only Wisdom is the Way and Truth of the God/Man. This deep ontology comes not in power and might, but in the revelation of weakness and poverty. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” [1 Cor. 1.27] The Herods and Pilates are neither truly wise nor even really very mighty. They are but manipulative and clever. Herod may have had his chief priests and scribes, he may have had the ability to “read” the Prophets Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Haggai, Micah and Malachi, but without the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, without faith, he had the same vail over his eyes and heart that all law-centric Jews, Muslims, and works-righteous do.
Wisdom, God’s Wisdom, is paradoxical. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. He who saves his life will lose it but he who loses his life for Christ’s sake will gain it. He who crucifies the “old Adamic flesh” and is buried with the convicted Nazarene will rise to die no more. Not King Caesar—for those empires are foolish and filled with lies of mammon; but King Jesus, the Suffering Servant—bound, whipped, stripped, thorned, spiked, and lifted up on cross to bleed out like the sacrificial lamb He was. The only Wisdom is in His Body and His Blood; in His Word of “Repent and Believe;” in His crushing of Satan and sin by His atoning crucifixion, and in His liberating absolution by His death and resurrection. “It is finished” gives way to “Peace to you!”
The scandal and worldly embarrassment of a God/Man hanging on a tree like a criminal low-life, is the same scandal and humiliation of worshipping a young child as God in the Flesh.
Hallelujah that the Spirit worked faith in the wise men making them wise like you—i.e. filled with the Word.
The contingent from the East found the house where Jesus was. God may be in nature, and everywhere else, but He still, always, tabernacles (tents) with His children in His House of worship and prayer, His Temple of Body and Blood. “They saw the young child with Mary His mother,” for the Christ of Scripture, the real Redeemer, brooks no sectarian, lone-ranger, independent relationships with special and individual connections. One finds Christ always and only with His Mother, the Church, because it is HIS One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of His Mother, brothers, sisters, and sons. There is no salvation outside The Church for the Church is Jesus where He deigns to be present in Word and Sacramental Word! In Jesus’ presence, like Joshua, like Isaiah, like Peter, they “fell down, and worshipped Him,” much like we do when we genuflect during the Creed’s ultimate Gospel “and was made man!”
Jesus certainly did not need the gifts given by the Magi, though to be sure, His Mother and Guardian used them wisely as good stewards. The gold bespoke the precious Body He would give and Blood He would shed on Calvary for your transgressions, for His sacrifice is the precious gold of God’s Grace. The frankincense, burned in the Tabernacle and Temple both in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ own day, acknowledged God’s presence and the uplifting of prayers and sacrificial hearts. The true incense would be Jesus’ pleas and intercessions to the Father on your behalf. Christ is the sweetest smelling savor of love and mercy in the nostrils of the Blessed Trinity. The myrrh “typified” the ointment which Christ’s dead Body would be treated with by Nicodemus and Joseph when He was laid in the tomb. Your myrrh is the oil, or the Water of Holy Baptism, which lays and + dresses out your body in the tomb and Easter rising of Christ’s beckoning arms.
It may look to the eyes of worldly wisdom that Jesus is not doing anything in this morning’s text, and that the wise men and the others are the actors and do-ers. But it was Christ, even the young child Christ, who was shining. It was Jesus, the glory of the LORD, that was rising upon all of them. The darkness of Herod and Caiaphas and all unbelievers which covered the earth was being dissipated by the brightness of Christ’s Light. Those wise gentiles were only the first of many.
Augsburgers, lift up your eyes of faith and see; you have been gathered together. Fall down and worship your King—that is, come to His Table and be served; receive Him!
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost