Jesus – My All in All
Greetings on this the Epiphany of the Lord.
Readings: IS 60:1-6; PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6; MT 2:1-12
Epiphany is always a favorite in the domestic Church. People place figurines of the Magi in proximity to the Nativity beginning Holy Family Sunday. Each day of the week the figurines are repositioned to be closer and closer to the baby Jesus. Finally on Epiphany Sunday morning the Magi have arrived to see Mary, Joseph and Jesus and present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It’s really a nice way to visually approach Epiphany.
Earlier this week I posted Manifest for Manifestation with some ideas to help one approach the Epiphany of the Lord, more specifically, to prepare ourselves to enter into the Manifestation. I want to add two more details that help frame this wonderful moment in human history where the Lord comes and lives among us.
Joseph and Pharaoh
The story of Joseph and Pharaoh is in the book of Genesis. We can’t cover everything but if you’ve a mind to the chapters of interest are Genesis 37 to 50.
Joseph became a trusted administrator to the Pharaoh and was a dream interpreter. Joseph warned Pharaoh seven years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine in the land is coming soon. Since Pharaoh was warned in a dream twice on this point, he immediately gave this proven slave Joseph great authority to prepare the kingdom for this major event.
When the famine came and so severe was the famine that the entire world Egyptian, Hebrew and the 7 nations (all the gentile kingdoms) had to procure their rations of grain from Joseph in order to survive. Joseph, this insignificant man from an insignificant land saved the whole world from starving. Joseph was food for the journey.
Joseph’s action were unitive:
- He preserved the Egyptian people.
- He gathered the Hebrew people together and brought peace between the brothers/tribes.
- He fed all the nations.
What was paid for the grain? In stages:
- They paid cash
- They paid with their livestock. Livestock is essential to worship in those days.
- They paid with their land and their person (sharecroppers).
In effect, Joseph received a portion of everything to keep them alive. It was a manageable deal where the sharecroppers paid 20% of the crop to Pharaoh and kept 80% for themselves and their families.
Magi of the Nations
In our romantic version of the Magi there are three wise men from Persia that come to see this newborn king. That’s fine. But I want to use some more specific biblical theological and archeological perspectives.
More likely the number of Magi were between 7 and 12 groups. Each group had an entourage of about 1,000 to 1,200 soldiers. Since they came from every point of the compass they arrived from different directions all in the same time. It is no wonder King Herod was greatly troubled and all Jerusalem with him. His capitol city was surrounded by 7 different kings with small armies all looking for a king to be born.
These Magi Kings came with gifts:
- Gold – their cash. Well, cash.
- Frankincense – their ‘livestock’. Frankincense is essential to worship in those days.
- Myrrh – their inheritance, the very essence of who they are. Yes, we describe this in burial ritual terms as it relates to personhood.
As you can see the Epiphany carries the same theme as Joseph and Pharaoh of old:
- He is here to preserved creation, most specifically people.
- He is here to gather the Jewish people together and bring peace between the Judea and Israel.
- He is here to feed all the nations.
Jesus completes the work of Joseph.
Jesus in the manger is the bread of life to sustain the people.
Jesus is reversing the curse of famine and opens the treasury of heaven for everyone to give each their rations/allotment.
We celebrate the realization that the Lord has not abandoned us to famine but rather to the share his vast riches of heaven.
Specifically Jesus shares himself the food of the manger. Food for the spirit. Food for the soul. Food for the ages.
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Peace be with you,