By Megan McKenna
Isaiah 60:1-6 | Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6 | Matthew 2:1-12
This day is second only to Easter in its light, its power and glory. In the early centuries of the church, this was the day for baptisms, the manifestation of the Light of God seeking its way out into the far reaches of the world. And its good news was carried by those who had sought peace with justice, and returned by another route, the way of the Gospel of God to their own lands. This day is the day of universal light dawning, a day of splendor and shining radiance. We are all, communities and nations, called to walk in the light of the wisdom of God, to walk in the way of this child born to us, who has made us all intimate with God, members of one body, one Spirit and one heart in Christ.
It is the gathering of light, the gathering of the peoples and nations, and the blurring of borders and separation. And it is a day of commissioning, of sending forth those who are baptized in the Spirit of this child, into the world with the ministry of of God’s secret plan–to make us all one, living in communion, sharers of the same promise and living the same gospel. But it is also the day when the light goes forth boldly into the darkness of the world and of human beings’ hearts, in the den of nations and power bases that have no intention of welcoming the light. Their intent is to destroy hope, to enslave and wreak havoc on others, to instill fear and to use violence to murder any who stand in the way of power and dominion. This is the beginning of the struggle of the light and wisdom against the frenzy of hate and the destruction of life.
So we are told the story of the astrologers who come looking for the star that is the portent of the birth of a king and they stumble into the court of Herod. This king listens attentively, ensnares them in his designs and sends them on their way, calculating how to kill anyone and everyone, even babes in arms and children that might grow up to be a threat to his rule. Herod is disturbed at the good news and so is the entire city. Remember Mary, too, and Joseph, too, were extremely disturbed at the coming of hope, the fulfillment of promises. The astrologers are overjoyed at rediscovering the star and coming upon the child with Mary and Joseph. They do homage and give over their gifts and go home transformed, by another way. But Herod has no intention of doing homage to anyone, not a child or God. And he will make his decision, calculated on what he learned from the visitors. And the innocent, all those just associated by age and geographical location, let alone intent and hope and in this child’s presence, will be murdered to allay his fears.
But the child will live, for this day. This is the child who will divide and break open the seal and confirm the hearts of us all. His advent in the world has begun its work. Christ is born in Bethlehem, born of God and Mary, raised by Joseph. Christ is born in our hearts in the Word, in the Eucharist, in the Spirit of justice and peace now. Christ has come in glory, hidden now, but will come in glory at the fullness of time. Christ comes ever to meet us in the flesh of every human being, in the face of every child of God and in every moment of history, laying claim, asking entrance into our flesh, our communities and our lives. Look around. Do you see what I see? The manger will become a cross. The Word has become flesh. We have become beloved children of God. What is our world to become, if not the splendor of our God, basking in the radiance of God shining on our faces and appearing over us in glory?
Thomas Merton, monk and prophet of peace, wrote in “The Time of the End is the Time of No Room” in Raids on the Unspeakable what we are summoned to announce and live out.
Into this world, this demented inn,
in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all,
Christ has come uninvited.
But because He cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it,
His place is with those others, for whom there is no room,
His place is with those who do not belong,
who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied status of persons,
who are tortured, bombed and exterminated,
with those for whom there is no room,
Christ is present in the world.
He is mysteriously present in those
for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst…
It is in these that He hides Himself,
for whom there is no room.
Do we see him coming… coming toward us? It is always Advent since Incarnation and Resurrection. Come, children… share your meal. Come home. Amen.
This reflection is from Who Will Summon the Dawn? Reflections for Advent 2001, by Megan McKenna. She is an author, storyteller and scripture scholar and a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace.