1-2-2022 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

“They returned to their country by another way.” What a near fairy tale ending to this lovely but significant episode in the Christmas story.  Whether they were the traditional three figures (based on the number of gifts) or of an unknown head count; whether they were astrologers, or kings, they represent us, the Gentile world, coming to pay homage to the newborn Messiah.  As happened before in those days of wonder, the wise men received a warning in a dream and escaped the clutches of the malignant monarch Herod. Instead they mounted their humped “desert ships” and headed East, never to be seen again.

But here may I interject a question, “home to do what?“  Adhere to studying the stars?  Perhaps. But we know that no one who comes to Jesus goes away the same.

My imagination supplies one possible answer: In their newfound lives they became evangelizers, eager to tell the world about Him whom they had seen lying in the manger. The same One whom they had gifted with items not found in stables. They now had a new purpose in life.

That leads into the subject of our individual purpose in the grand scheme of things. What is it?  What specifically are we called to do for God here below in order to live with Him forever above in heaven? Will we tackle it a bit better now that a brand new year has arrived?

Prayer, for believers at least, is the main component of the search.
Allow me now to bring to your attention the most helpful words of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman. He presents his thought with his characteristic
eloquence and that pertinent wisdom displayed every time he put pen to paper.  I have carried the following with me for years.

“God has created me to do Him some definite service.  He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.  I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught.  I shall do good.  I shall do His work.  I shall be an angel of peace; a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I but keep His commandments. Therefore I shall trust Him.

Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.  If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him. In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him.  If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.  He does nothing in vain.  He knows what He is about.

He may take away my friends; He may throw me among strangers.  He may make me feel desolate; make my spirits sink; hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”

God love you and give you His peace in this New Year!

Reading I:  Isaiah 60: 1-6: A wonderful introduction leads into a description of a procession of all the world coming to Mt. Zion to rebuild Jerusalem.

Reading II:  Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6: Paul interprets the revealed mystery of Christ, namely that Gentiles are full participants in the Church.

The Gospel:  Matthew 2: 1-12: The wise men represent the Gentile world in all its racial diversity coming to worship Christ.  “The East” in this case could be Persia, Syria, or Arabia.  They acknowledge Jesus as a royal Messiah.