Sermons from January 2020
We heard Jesus proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” And arguably, this is one of the most important phrases in Matthew’s gospel. It’s the same phrase that John the Baptist used. It’s a similar phrase used by Jesus when he sent the disciples. It’s the summary of the whole gospel of Matthew in one sentence. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near…”
In our readings, over the past few weeks, Jesus went from being born in a manger, to being a toddler with some interesting gifts, and today, he was baptized in his late 20s or early 30s. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about those twenty-five or so years since last week’s story. Perhaps, there wasn’t anything special going on; maybe, Jesus was just like every other young child–with times of celebration and sorrow, with awkward moments and proud moments, a childhood filled with the ordinary and the memorable. Today, we explicitly heard about one of Jesus’s life-defining moments…
Today’s gospel reading is complex. At the surface, we heard that multiple magi brought three gifts from afar to honor Jesus. If we look at the context, we find that these magi were probably educated, foreign, astrologists who were religious leaders in Zoroastrianism and came from present-day countries like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and India. The magi had political ties to Jerusalem’s enemy, influence another country’s leadership by providing information and finances (you know, gold, frankincense, and myrrh) so that the Holy Family could seek asylum in Egypt. This led to Herod’s decision to commit infanticide when he was fooled by the magi. And no, this wasn’t a movie I watched last night or a news article I read this morning; instead, it was today’s gospel reading. And, if we look just a wee-bit deeper at Herod and the scribes, we will find a few more details that make today’s gospel even more complex.