Mathew 2:1
… in the days of King Herod…
First of all, Herod was not a descendent of David. He was not even Jewish. He was someone who had been placed as King by the Roman Emperor, not by his descendance from David. Why is this so important? It explains in part the reason why Herod was so concerned.
This newborn king of the Jews was a threat to his rule, which was considered illegitimate by… probably everyone that was under his domain. So, because he was installed with the support of the Roman Emperor, Jesus was a threat not only to Herod but to the peace that Herod was supposed to be maintaining for Rome. If Herod did not do his job, he would probably lose his head.
So, when the Magi appeared, everyone who heard about it would have been very concerned about what was going to happen next. We know what happened next, and what happened for the thirty-three years after that that led to Jesus’ death.
To me, the story that Matthew tells us in the gospel almost sounds like God is laughing at or mocking the worldly powers of the day. I do not think that is going too far. In all the stories of the birth of Jesus, there is almost a comic response. So many people try to stop the work of God, but it cannot be stopped!
But it is also important to notice that there are those who do not try to stop it, but rather rejoice in the plan of God. The shepherds, the Magi, Mary and Joseph, Simeon, Anna… How many more? We do not know. However it seems clear that there were those who did not rejoice in the birth of Christ, and that there were many who did rejoice.
I would like to return to the idea that God was laughing or mocking the powers of the day by the simple way he had his son born. We look at manger scenes today with a sense of awe mixed with love because God has chosen to do such marvelous things. But I would like us to add one more part to this. It is the idea that God was laughing at the antics of those who were trying to find Jesus and destroy him.
This is another part that I think we need to pay attention to. There is a place in Scripture that says God laughed at them and then rose in his anger. When God arises, who can withstand his action? When God arises, his people shout “glory!” When God arises, demons tremble.
God has arisen! It may seem slow to us, but that is done out of his mercy. God has arisen, and we have seen the effect of his presence. It may seem to have happened only in the memory of the manger, but the shepherds knew, the Magi knew, Jerusalem knew, Herod knew, demons knew… And we know!
What do we know? The truth as St. Paul said it in our reading today: “that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
We are the inheritance of Christ! He is the laughter of God that makes the demons tremble, and the righteous rejoice.
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.