Posts Tagged ‘1-2-2022’

Epiphany 1-2-2022

Saturday, January 1st, 2022

As a kid I loved watching the three kings – or astrologers or magi
or whatever – getting placed at the crib. Exotic, colorful, mystical… and
now the crib set was complete.
But a few weeks ago someone told me there was someone very
important missing from almost every crib set. “Who,” I asked.
She said, “Herod should be in every crib set because darkness is
never far away in the Christmas story. Darkness is part of how many
people experience Christmas in their homes. And over 2000 years ago
there was the darkness of Christmas Eve, with the shepherds keeping
night watch over their flock, and the appalling dangerous darkness of
King Herod. It was because of darkness and love for those in darkness
that the Light came.”
“Wow,” I thought. She’s right.
Herod started off so good. Brilliant and charming he knew many
languages. He was a high-powered achiever, and his kingdom was filled with many projects that created wealth. But he had a dark side too, and
his dark side, towards the end of his life, seems to have completely taken
over. He killed his favorite wife and at least two of his children (he was
suspicious and paranoid), he is mentioned in connection with the
horrible slaughter of the holy innocents, and when he died he left
instructions that many leading citizens in Jerusalem be slaughtered, so
the population would weep at his passing.
Herod became the proverbial poster boy for cruelty, paranoia,
corrupt living and family grief. What happened to him?
He would not, and then maybe later he could not, do two really
important things with his neck. He couldn’t lift his eyes and look about.
He could not sense the grandeur of the world and of the God of the
world all around him, and take his place as a valued and treasured part of
the whole. He had to be everything, the center of everything. He
couldn’t lift his head higher than what he thought, he felt, and what he
wanted to do.
And second, unlike the magi who prostrated themselves, he couldn’t bow his head and worship something more holy than himself. When you don’t have time to wonder at the extreme largeness of
the world, the universe, human life, other human lives – and the One
who created them all – you get obsessed with your tasks and your way
and yourself – and that’s a recipe for darkness.
And when you don’t spend some time bending, prostrating, and
consciously adoring the One who is greater than you – that is a recipe
for darkness.
And at its worse you turn into a tyrant. Maybe not like King
Herod, but you can be a tyrant in the kitchen, in the home, in the office,
on the road, in church.
We rightly call these Magi the wise men, and maybe wise women.
They took time to lift their eyes and wonder – they saw the star and
Herod didn’t. And they prostrated themselves and did him homage,
offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I hope we will do the