Matthew 4:12-25 Epiphany + 1
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled… He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people…They brought to him all who were sick with various diseases and racked with pain, those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics, and he cured them.
Yesterday, the wise men (Greek: magos) brought to the King gold, frankincense and myrrh. Today, they bring their sick and all those racked with pain. And just like the Lord did as a child, He takes them all in: the good, the bad and the ugly. Thank you God!
Now what will He do with them? What will He do with us if we present ourselves before Him? He will give us a fresh start. He will make us better. To those who are good, he will make them better. To those who are bad, he will make them better. To the ugly, he will make them beautiful.
When we give ourselves to the Lord, what will He do with us? He will get the very best out of us.
He who commits himself to live like the Lord commits himself not only to the same laws of the Lord but also to the same results as the Lord. Yes, the honest man who lives by the law of truth may be bound to it, yet He sets himself free and journeys closer to the Father. He who commits himself to purity may be bound to it, yet He is not weighed down by it. The man who keeps a pure heart sees the face of God and sees people more dearly and more clearly.
The magi presented themselves and their gifts to the Lord, freely. They bowed down before the Lord and gave their gifts out of love to the Lord. They gave nothing out of necessity or out of any sort of obligation. Today, the Lord invites us to do the same thing. He wants us. He wants everything. He wants our gifts, our talents and even our pains and sorrows. He wants it all so that He can do great things through us. But, it must be given freely; all out of love.
Whom shall I serve? Who will be my King? Who will I adore?
Throughout our lives we are forced to give what we don’t want to give. We are forced to pay taxes, especially when we do not agree with our government. We are forced to come into work and work long hours, even if we do not want to. So many of us are forced to give our time, our talents, our youth and our sweat to others, regardless of whether or not we want to. And if we don’t, we face the wrath of the government and of others. When we defy the government, we lose our freedom on earth. But when we defy God, we lose nothing on earth.
God does not want us by force. He wants us by love. Everything we do for the Lord, must be done out of love. Otherwise, our gift may not be truly a gift.
When we give our Lord our Will, our heart and our love, He takes it and serves others with it. When we give the Lord our sins, He takes them and gives us and others a fresh start. How different this is from all other kings and empires. The Lord frees us of our sins. He does not crucify us to them.
When we give our Lord our pains and sorrows, what does He do with them? He gives us the opportunity to imitate Him.
All that we do for the Lord must be done through the heart, out of love. Let’s invite the Lord into our lives so that others may find the Lord through our lives.
The wise men, after leaving their gifts at the foot of the Lord, took a different path home. When we lay down our lives at the foot of the Lord, we will never be the same again.