With the celebration of the epiphany last weekend the Christmas season officially draws to a close. The good feelings of merriment, celebration, visits from friends and loved ones seem to vanish after the new year and by the first weekend the trees and decorations are taken down. Because of the compression of the liturgical calendar many Catholics believe the three wise men journeyed to the manger to see the infant Yeshua and many creche scenes include figurines of them. Nothing could be further from the truth and perhaps in reading scripture we might find that the good feelings of Christmas should be extended.
Matthew Chapter 2, verse 10 explains the wise men have had an audience with Herod (Agrippa) and they followed the star in the east until it stood over the place where He was. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. It has been shown that Jesus was about 2 years old at the time of the visit from the magi. He was already living at home with Mary and Joseph. When these astrologers saw the star at Jesus' birth, they made a decision to pack their camels and follow it. We are not told where they came from, but we know that it took them two years to visit Christ Jesus. This journey of commitment is but a small demonstration of the journey Christians take when they decide to follow Jesus.
Scripture also tells us that when news reached Herod that a newborn king had arrived, he was greatly troubled and all of Jerusalem was troubled with him. Herod was troubled because his hold on power was tenuous and finite. Imagine his dark mood when these learned men from the east come looking for the new king. He asks them careful questions about the rising of the star and then send them on their way. When they behold Jesus they bow before him and open their treasures to present him with gifts worthy of a priest, prophet and king. They depart from the place by another route, avoiding Herod and in his hysteria he orders the mass murder of all Jewish boys age 2 and under. The Holy family is safe, having been warned in a dream.
The commercial Christmas season seems to start earlier with each passing year and this year was no exception with music and sales commencing on All Saints day. It ends the day after Christmas with the returns and after season sales. Christians however, can celebrate Christmas any day when they: choose to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, dedicate their lives to God, Let the light of Christ shine forth to others, do a kindness for someone no matter how small, make Christ the center of their family life and in so many other ways. When they do this Christ comes into the world again and the world continues to feel his impact. Therefore, let us extend our Christmas celebration in any small way and once again the way to Christ will be lighted.