Tag Archives: Gospel of Matthew

Pay homage

attributed to Payag (Indian)
The Magi Follow the Star, from a Mirror of Holiness (Mir’at al-quds) of Father Jerome Xavier, SJ (1549–1617)
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper, between 1602 and 1604
Cleveland Museum of Art

And behold, the star that [the magi] had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b

Would I have seen the star that would lead me to find Jesus? Or would I have been like King Herod, unable to see and follow, afraid and troubled?

Today I will look for and pay homage to the light of God’s self-revelation in nature, in the people I encounter, in prayer and meditation. I will not be afraid to welcome God’s presence.

Leaving home

Flight into Egypt
France, 17th century
polychromed oakwood
collection of the Musée L, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:14

Imagine how frightened Joseph and Mary were — and how courageous — to leave their homeland in the face of danger and persecution, and to make a new life in a strange country.

My ancestors came to America from Ireland, most of them so poor they traveled in steerage. One side of the family was illiterate. On the other side, my great-great grandmother died soon after arriving in New York and so did the baby twins to whom she had just given birth. Men on both sides of the family took work as laborers and mill workers. They saved what they could from their tiny salaries, bought houses, turned their yards into vegetable gardens, and made sure their children got a good education. Today I live very comfortably, thanks to the courage of my ancestors.

May I always extend a welcome to newcomers. May I be grateful for their example of courage and their reminder of my own family story. May I remember Jesus, too, was a refugee.

 

 

 

Whose star

JESUS MAFA. The Three Wise Men, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

The star of the Christ leads me by the light of love, hope, compassion, and peace to reveal God’s goodness in me, my neighbor, and the world.

Other stars in our world attract me with the promise of riches, power, ease, and fame.

And then there are the dark stars that seduce me into depression, despair, and discontent.

I must choose with the wisdom of the magi the star I will follow.

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. Matthew 2:9b

In this moment

Unknown Icon Painter, Russian (active 1690-1710 in northern Russia)
The Holy Trinity
egg tempera on wood, between 1690 and 1710

We are in the presence of God. Now.

We are not alone. We have not been abandoned. The Lord is with us always.

Listen to the silence. Feel the fullness. Absorb the peace.

Trust.

[Jesus approached and said to them,] “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

The mystery made known

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. Matthew 2:9b

Those who have made the trek, followed the star, and encountered the Christ teach me that the power and light of love can never be fully obscured. May their example renew my faith when it is clouded by pain, depression, or grief, and rekindle my hope when it is diminished by disappointment, disillusionment, or discouragement.

 

When did I see you

Photograph of a Soup Kitchen during the Depression
June 1936
National Archives and Records Administration.
Office of Presidential Libraries.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

There are no subtexts or hidden agendas with Jesus. He spells out exactly how we are to serve him: by taking care of each other, especially those who are poor or in need.

Who can I help today?

[Jesus said to his disciples,] ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:34b-35

Small matters

John S.C. Abbot and Jacob Abbot
The Parable of the Talents in the Illustrated New Testament, 1878

Bring a can of food to the food pantry. Stop to say hello to a neighbor. Smile at a stranger. Offer my seat to an elderly person. Listen to a family member. Keep company with someone who is ill or dying. Pray. Thank God for my blessings and burdens.

The small things matter. They teach me to see the people around me. They strengthen me to be with those who are suffering. They add up to this great insight and responsibility: We are all God’s children, here to love one another.

[Jesus told his disciples this parable:] “His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.'” Matthew 25:21

Wisdom’s Way

I perceive the resplendence of wisdom when I stay aware of and act on opportunities to love my neighbor, forgive those who have hurt me, take responsibility for my words and actions, give food to the hungry, visit the sick and lonely, seek peaceful resolutions to conflict.

I find wisdom in my own loneliness, in my realization of my need for God’s guidance, comfort, and boundless love as I continue to make mistakes on the Way to perfection.

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her. Wisdom 6:12

Nothing to prove

Sieger Köder (1925-2015)
Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet
“The greatest among you must be your servant.” Matthew 23:11

When I am grounded in love and compassion, kindness and patience, hope and humility, I have no need to perform for others to see. I can participate fully in life just as I am—frail, tired, encouraging, interested, sorrowing, accepting.

I have nothing to prove. I am a precious child of God.

[Jesus said,] “All their works are performed to be seen.” Matthew 23:5a

Love thy neighbor

When I love my neighbor as myself, I love the Lord, my God, with my whole heart, soul, and mind.

When I forget to treat myself and others with reverence, I have forgotten the reverence due to God.

Thus says the LORD: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.” Exodus 22:21-22