Today’s readings are a textbook example of how the evangelists cleverly drew on Old Testament texts to tell the story about Jesus.
People who seek the basis for Matthew’s story of the Wise Men need not search ancient astronomical records for exploding quasars or stars in a wobbly orbit. Far better for them to research the Jewish scriptures that were the real source of Matthew’s story. Fortunately, in the lectionary the Church has done us the favor of doing precisely that.
It is striking how the reading from Isaiah provides so many details that make their way into Matthew’s gospel story—even the mention of camels and the enumeration of the gifts of the Magi. And the Responsorial Psalm perfectly formulates the theme of the liturgical feast: Every nation on earth will adore you.
The second reading from the letter to the Ephesians raises the historical fact of the extension of the Church beyond her Jewish roots to embrace the Gentiles to the height of divine revelation, calling it a “mystery.” This is the mystery that discloses God’s truest self, that divine grace is a gift offered to everyone, that the boundaries we impose on the human family have no bearing on God’s universal love that has no limits.
For Matthew, the Wise Men are the personification of that mystery.
—Walter Modrys SJ
This Sunday’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.