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. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. (Matt 2:10-12)
This weekend we celebrate the twelfth day of Christmas: the feast of Epiphany (“manifestation”) of Christ. Now the story of the “three kings” is a familiar one. The Magi, who were likely astrologers and magicians, left house and home, their families and all that was familiar to make the perilous journey to find the promised Savior. Where did they find him? In the field with the shepherds? In the manger surrounded by animals? In the temple with Simeon and the other Jewish clergy? No. In none of these places did they encounter the Holy Family. Remember eight days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph present him in the temple for the Jewish rites of circumcision and naming. So where was the holy family after the temple dedication, but before their desperate flight into Egypt? Where did the Magi find Christ? Scripture reveals: “And behold the star that they [the Magi] had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.” (Matt 2:9-11)
The Magi find Christ in a home. Because the Scripture is silent about in whose home the Magi encountered Jesus, it invites us to reflect upon a great spiritual truth: that the primary place where we discover Christ is in our own home, in the midst of our family, friends and loved ones. In this way, the Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh represent the gifts of relationships (gold), the blessings and joys of family (frankincense) and the sacrifice and sorrows of family living (myrrh). This feast of the Epiphany reminds us not only did the Magi find Christ because they were looking for Him, but also, they found him in a home. The home is where life happens, and in this place, Christ abides.
Because the Magi encountered Christ in a house, there is a wonderful and beautiful Catholic tradition of the annual house blessing on the feast of the Epiphany. As a priest, I often have requests to come and bless homes of all variety, and it is always a great privilege to be able to bring the gift of God’s grace and peace. Moreover, all have the ability to call down the God’s blessings into the place where they live. As a way helping folks to continue this tradition, we have put together “house blessing kits” which are available after all the Masses. There are three steps to this annual New Year blessing:
Step #1: Take chalk and mark on the inside lintel (the door beam) of your front door 20 + C + M+ B + 15
Step #2: As you are tracing each of the letters, numbers and crosses, say:
The three wise men
M Melchior, and
B Balthasar followed the star of God’s Son who became man
20 two thousand
15 fifteen years ago.
++May Christ bless our home and
++ remain with us throughout the year.
Step #3: Using Holy Water, bless the front door and pray:
May all who come into our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us. Let this house be a true home — a place for family and friends. May it be the place from which we seek to serve those in need and may Christ dwell here in peace. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
May we always seek Christ and discover him in the midst of our homes!
Thank you for the Epiphany reflection.
“It is better to cry than be angry, because anger hurts others while tears flow silently through the soul and cleanse the heart.”
Pope John Paul II