2019 Commentaries

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This week’s Aita Antton’s commentary 


Sunday February 10, 2019
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel Luke 5: 1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

Ebanjelioa Lukas 5: 1-11

Behin batean, jendea gainera zetorkion Jesusi, Jainkoaren mezua entzuteko; Jesus Genesaret aintzira-ertzean zegoen.Eta bi ontzi ikusi zituen ur-bazterrean: arrantzaleak, ontzitik jaitsita, sareak garbitzen ari ziren. 3 Igo zen bietako batera, Simonenera, eta ontzia lehorretik pixka bat aldentzeko eskatu zion; gero, eseri eta jendeari irakasten ziharduen ontzitik. 4 Hitzaldia amaitu zuenean, Simoni esan zion: –Jo itsas zabalera eta bota sareak arrantzurako. Simonek erantzun zion: –Maisu, gau guztian eginahalak egin eta ez dugu ezer harrapatu; baina, zuk diozunez gero, botako dut sarea. Hala egin zuten eta, hainbesteko arrain-pila harrapatu zutenez, sareak puskatzeko zorian zeuden. 7 Beste ontziko lagunei keinu egin zieten laguntzera etortzeko; hurbildu ziren eta bi ontziak ia-ia hondoratzeraino bete zituzten. 8 Gertatua ikusirik, Jesusen oinetara erori zen Simon Pedro, esanez: –Alde niregandik, Jauna, bekataria naiz eta! 9 Izan ere, zur eta lur zeuden eginiko arrantzuagatik Simon eta beronekin zirenak, 10 baita haren arrantzu-lagun Santiago eta Joan Zebedeoren semeak ere. Baina Jesusek esan zion Simoni: –Ez beldurtu, hemendik aurrera giza arrantzale izango zara. 11 Ontziak lehorrera atera zituzten eta, dena utzirik, jarraitu egin zioten.

 

The Word of God is Effective

The Evangelist Luke wrote the episode of a surprising and unexpected catch of fish in the lake of Galilee to encourage and give optimism to the small community of believers when they experienced, in a frustrating manner, that all their efforts to announce the Good News seemed to fail. What Luke tries to tell us is very clear: it is not US the protagonists of the mission. Consequently, we must place our trust and hope in the strength and appeal of the Gospel.

The story begins with an unusual scene. Jesus is standing by the lake, and “people gather around Him to listen to the Word of God.” These people did not come out of curiosity. They did not even come to see wonders. They just wanted to hear Jesus speak the Word of God. It was not a Sabbath day. They were not gathered in the nearby synagogue of Capernaum to listen to the biblical readings, which used to be proclaimed to the people throughout the year. The people did not even go up to Jerusalem to listen to the priests of the Temple. What attracts the people is the Good News announced by the Prophet Jesus, rejected, as we saw last Sunday, by his own people in the town of Nazareth.

Also, the scene about the abundant fishing is unusual. When, during the night, which is the most favorable time for fishing, Peter and his companions worked hard by themselves, trusting in their skills and years of experience, did not get any results. But, during the day, when they cast their nets relying only on the word of Jesus that guided their work, an abundant catch occurs, against all expectations.

In the background of the data, which increasingly makes evident the crisis of faith among us, there is an undeniable fact. The Church is losing, in an unstoppable manner, the power of attraction and even the credibility she largely enjoyed just till a few years ago. We experience almost daily that our ability to pass our own faith, convictions and spirituality on to our following generations (our own children) is shrinking. We are not short of new efforts (even especial effects), initiatives, and methods and technics either. Obviously, it is not only or primarily about inventing new strategies or developing new technics.

It is time to remember, and to humbly accept, that in the Gospel of Jesus there is an attraction power, which does not exist in us. This is the most decisive question we need to ask ourselves. Do we continue “doing things” (business as usual) from the perspective of a church, which has lost already her appeal and credibility? Are we truly putting all our energies on letting the Gospel regain its power of attraction capable of seducing today’s men and women to fall in love with Jesus and share in his great dream about the Kingdom of God?

We must place the Gospel in the center of our lives. In these times of crisis, the most important attitude may be not to continue with our “business as usual” of developing more and more elaborate doctrines, which over the past centuries have brought many people out of the church, but to concentrate in imitating the very lifestyle of Jesus. What is decisive is not that many people come to share with us in our “business as usual” activities, but that they may come to experience the encounter with Jesus. The Christian faith is awakened only when people discover the fire of Jesus.

 


Sunday February 3, 2019
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel Luke 4: 21-30

Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

Ebanjelioa Lukas 4: 21-30

21 Eta honela hasi zitzaien: «Gaur bete da profezia hau entzuten didazuenontzat». 22 Denek Jesusen alde hitz egiten zuten eta harriturik zeuden Jainkoaren onginahiaz esaten zituenengatik. Baina zioten: «Ez al da, bada, hau Joseren semea?» 23 Orduan, Jesusek esan zien: «Harako esaera hura oroitaraziko didazue, noski: “Sendagile, sendatu zeure burua”, eta esango: “Egitzazu hemen, zeure herrian ere, Kafarnaumen egin omen dituzun gauzak”». 24 Eta erantsi zuen: «Benetan diotsuet: Ez da profetarik bere herriari mesedegarri zaionik. 25 Egiaz esaten dizuet: Emakume alargun asko zegoen Israelen Eliasen garaian, hiru urte eta erdian euririk egin ez zuelarik, lurralde osoan gosete handia izan zenean; 26 hala ere, Jainkoak ez zuen haietako inorengana bidali Elias, Sidon herrialdeko Sareptako alargun batengana baizik. 27 Eta legendun asko zegoen Israelen Eliseo profetaren garaian; hala ere, ez zuen haietako inor sendatu, Naaman siriarra baizik». 28 Hau entzutean, sinagogako denak amorruz bete ziren. 29 Eta, jaikirik, Jesus herritik kanpora bota eta herria jasoa zegoen mendiko amildegi batera eraman zuten, handik behera jaurtitzeko. 30 Baina Jesus haien artetik igaro eta bere bidetik joan zen.

 

Be Prophets!

“A great prophet has arisen among us.” This was the big cry of the people in the villages of Galilee, surprised, as they were, by the words and actions of Jesus. However, this is not the only thing happening in Nazareth when Jesus introduced Himself in front of his neighbors as the anointed and prophet of the poor.

Jesus experienced the admiration first and then the rejection of the people. Jesus was not surprised. He reminds them of a well-known saying: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Then, when the people threw Jesus away from their village and try to kill him, He leaves them for good. The Gospel recalls that Jesus “passed through the midst of them and went away.” Nazareth was now without the Prophet Jesus.

Jesus is and acts as a prophet. He is not a priest of the temple nor a teacher of the law. His life is part of the prophetic tradition of Israel. Unlike the kings and priests, a prophet is not appointed or anointed by anyone. His authority comes from God, who is determined to encourage and guide his beloved people with His Spirit, when politicians and religious leaders failed to do so.

It is not a coincidence that we Christians confess God to be incarnate in a Prophet.

The traits of the prophet are unmistakable. In the midst of an unjust society, where the powerful seek only their own well-being silencing the suffering of those who cry out their powerlessness, the prophet dares to interpret and experience the reality of the everyday life of the people from the perspective of God’s compassion for the least among us. The Prophet’s whole life becomes an “alternative life-style,” which criticizes the injustices taking place in our midst and calls to conversion and change.

Moreover, when even religion accommodates to an unjust order of things and its interests and priorities no longer respond to God’s demands, the prophet shakes the self-complacency, the indifference and self-deception of Christians who find solace in fulfilling rites, prescriptions, and repeating empty doctrines, and criticizes the illusion of eternity and the notion of the Absolute, which threatens the very essence of religion and reminds all that only God saves. God’s true presence introduces a new hope for the future life and invites each one of us to think from the perspective of the freedom and love of God.

A church that ignores the prophetic dimension of Jesus and his followers, runs the risk of running out of prophets. We are very concerned about the shortage of priests and we pray every day for the increase of vocations to priesthood ministry and consecrated life. Why do we not ask God to raise prophets in our midst? Let’s be prophets!

 


Sunday January 27, 2019
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel Lk 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Ebanjelioa Lk 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21

Teofilo agurgarria, askok ekin diote gure artean izan diren gertakarien historia idazteari, 2 hasieran begizko testigu eta gero berri onaren predikari izandakoek jakinarazi digutenaren arabera.Neuri ere on iruditu zait dena bere harian zuretzat idaztea, hasieratik guztia zehatz-mehatz aztertu ondoren, 4 jaso dituzun irakaspenak zein finkatuak dauden ikus dezazun.

14 Jesus, Espirituaren indarrez, Galileara itzuli zen, eta inguru hartan guztian zabaldu zen haren berri. 15 Hango sinagogetan irakasten zuen, denek goraipatzen zutela. 16 Nazaretera joan zen, bera hazi zen herrira, eta larunbatean sinagogan sartu zen, ohi zuenez, eta irakurgaia egitera zutitu. 17 Isaias profetaren liburua eman zioten eskura eta, irekitzean, pasarte hau aurkitu zuen: 18 Jaunaren espiritua nire gainean dago, berak bainau sagaratu behartsuei berri ona adierazteko; berak nau bidali gatibuei askatasuna

eta itsuei ikusmena hots egitera eta zapalduak askatzera,  19 Jaunak onginahia azalduko duen urtea hots egitera. 20 Liburua itxi, laguntzaileari eman eta eseri egin zen; denak sinagogan begira-begira zeuzkan. 21 Eta honela hasi zitzaien: «Gaur bete da profezia hau entzuten didazuenontzat».

A Prophet

In a remote and unknown village of Galilee called Nazareth, villagers gather in the synagogue on a Saturday morning to hear the Word of God. After a few years in the wilderness in search of God, Jesus returns to the town in which he grew up. This scene is very important in order to know Jesus and understand his mission.

According to Luke’s account, Jesus makes his own official presentation, as a prophet of God, in this almost unknown village, and it is in this village, that he makes known his own program, applying to himself the text of the prophet Isaiah. After reading the text, Jesus comments it with just on single sentence: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

According to Luke, “the people’s eyes were fixed on him.” Everyone’s attention moves from the read text to the person of Jesus. In today’s situation, in this particular historical moment, what is it that which can make our gaze fix upon Him? Let us fix our eyes on some of the firing elements, which inspired the life of Jesus.

The Spirit of God

The breath, the love, and the power of God guided and inspired the entire life of Jesus. The very life of God. Jesus said, “I do what I see God does.” It is not about the confession of a dogmatic Christological doctrine of Jesus developed by different Councils in the history of the Church. Fain in Jesus is about an existential appropriation and personalization of the tenderness and fire, the words and actions of Jesus, which, we believers call “God.” This God is a mystery of life, which takes the form of a very concrete lifestyle, which each one of us must try to find for ourselves.


Prophet of God

No one anointed Jesus with the holy olive oil, as kings used to be anointed in order to deliver the governing power or the high priests, which symbolized the empowerment of the sacred. Rather, it was the very Spirit of God who “anointed” Jesus. Thus, Jesus was not to come to rule a nation nor the Sacred Temple. Jesus is the prophet of God, and as such, his mission is to heal the sick, restore sight to the blind and to return to life the dead. Only, if we decide to live with his same prophetic spirit, will we be able to follow Him.


Good news for the poor

This was to be the heart of Jesus’ mission. His work in favor of the marginalized and destitute, of those in the margin of the society, in favor of those discarded by the financial, political and religious powers. To these despised people Jesus had Good News to announce, that they were the beloved children of God! To be like Jesus, means, then, that we must begin to live our lives, showing our love and solidarity with the poorest of the poor. This is not optional. It is a commandment.

Inviting all to Freedom

Jesus invites us all to come out from of all kinds of slavery. Jesus shows us the way to be free from all types of suffering, oppression and abuse. People felt Jesus as someone who could free them from meaninglessness and despair. The blind received new sight; sinners received grace and forgiveness. Restored dignity to all human beings.

Who is Jesus for me?

 


Sunday January 20, 2019
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel Jn 2: 1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Ebanjelioa Joan 1: 1-11

1 Hiru egunera, ezteiak izan ziren Galileako Kanan, eta han zen Jesusen ama. 2 Jesus eta beronen ikasleak ere gonbidatu zituzten ezteietara. 3 Eta ardoa amaitu baitzen, esan zion amak Jesusi: –Ez dute ardorik. 4 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Utz nazazu bakean, emakume. Oraino ez da etorri nire ordua. 5 Jesusen amak honela esan zien zerbitzariei: «Egin horrek esango dizuena». 6 Baziren han harrizko sei ur-ontzi, juduek beren garbikuntzetarako erabili ohi zituztenak, ehunen bat litrokoa bakoitza. 7 Jesusek esan zien zerbitzariei: –Bete ontziak urez. Haiek goraino bete zituzten. 8 Orduan, esan zien: –Atera pixka bat eta eraman mahaizainari. Hala egin zuten haiek. 9 Mahaizainak ardo bihurtutako ura dastatu zuen, nongoa zen jakin gabe; zerbitzariek, bai, bazekiten, beraiek atera baitzuten ura. Ardo berria dastatu zueneko, senarrari dei egin 10 eta esan zion: «Jende guztiak ardorik onena atera ohi du lehenik eta, jendea aski edanda dagoenean, arruntagoa; zuk, berriz, orain arte gorde duzu ardorik onena». 11 Bere lehen mirarizko seinale hau Galileako Kanan egin zuen Jesusek; honela, bere Jainko-aintza agertu zuen, eta ikasleek sinetsi egin zuten harengan. 12 Ondoren, Kafarnaumera joan zen bere ama, anai-arreba eta ikasleekin, eta han egon ziren zenbait egunez.

To live life in fulness

“There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee.” Thus, begins this story in which we are told something unexpected and surprising. The first public intervention of Jesus, the Messenger of God, has nothing religious about it. It does not happen in a sacred place. Jesus inaugurates his prophetic activity “saving” a wedding party that could have ended in a disaster. In those poor villages of Galilee, the wedding feast was the most appreciated event by all. For several days, family and friends accompanied the newlywed couple eating and drinking with them, dancing festive dances and singing love songs.

The Gospel of John tells us that it was in the middle of one of these feasts that Jesus made his “first sign”, the sign that offers us the key to understand all his actions and the profound meaning of his saving mission. The evangelist John does not speak of “miracles”. To Jesus’ surprising gestures he always calls them “signs”. He does not want his readers to remain fixed in that what can be prodigious in his performance. He invites us to discover a deeper meaning. For this, the Gospel of John offers us some clues of symbolic nature. Let’s see only one.

The mother of Jesus, attentive to the details of the party, notices that “there is no wine left” and tells her son. Perhaps the bride and groom, of humble condition, have been overwhelmed by the numbers of attending guests. Mary is worried. The party is in danger. How can a wedding end because there was no wine? She trusts in Jesus.

Among the peasants of Galilee wine was a well-known symbol of joy and love. All knew it. If life lacks joy and lacks love, social coexistence can have a dramatic end. Mary is right in trusting Jesus. Jesus intervenes to save the party by providing abundant wine of excellent quality.

This gesture of Jesus helps us grasp what the orientation of Jesus’ whole life and the fundamental content of his project is going to be: the establishment of the kingdom of God. While religious leaders and teachers of the law worry about religion and its practices, Jesus is committed to making people’s lives more humane, joyful and bearable.

The gospels present Jesus focused, not on religion but on life. Quality good life is not something solely for the rich and powerful and privileged and religious and pious people. It is also for everybody who feel the need to live a more dignified and happy way of life. Jesus transmits faith in a God as a foundation for a better personal and social life full of joy because it is permeated with generosity and love. God IS the fountain of that abundant life.

 


Sunday January 13, 2019
The Baptism of the Lord (First Sunday in Ordinary Time C)

Gospel Luke 3: 15-16; 21-22

The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Ebanjelioa Lukas 3: 15-16; 21-22

15 Herria zain-zain zegoen eta denak ari ziren pentsatzen Joan ez ote zen Mesias izango. 16 Joanek, ordea, denen aurrean esan zuen: «Nik urez bataiatzen zaituztet, baina badator ni baino ahaltsuago dena, eta ni ez naiz inor haren oinetakoen lokarriak  askatzeko ere; horrek Espiritu Santuaz eta suz bataiatuko zaituzte.

21 Herri guztia bataiatzen ari zela, Jesus ere bataiatu egin zen eta, otoitzean zegoela, zerua zabaldu 22 eta Espiritu Santua jaitsi zitzaion gainera, uso-tankeran agertuz. Eta mintzo hau etorri zen zerutik: «Zu zaitut neure Semea, neure maitea, zu zaitut atsegin».

Reaching Critical Mass

The Baptist does not allow people to confuse him with the Messiah. He is aware of his own limits and accepts them. There is One stronger and more decisive than him: the only One whom people must welcome. The reason is obvious. The Baptist offers the people a baptism of water. Only Jesus, the Messiah, will “baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

In opinion of many observers, one of the biggest problems the Church faces today consists of “spiritual mediocrity.” It looks as if the Church lacks the spiritual strength She needs to face the challenges of the present historical moment. This is the reason why we need Jesus to baptize us with His fire and His Spirit.

Lately, distrust in the power of the Spirit, and fear of anything that might lead to a renewal has diminished considerably the ardent faith of many followers of Jesus. Much emphasis is placed on continuity in order to preserve that which belongs to the past, tradition, to what always has been done, and refuse to hear the calls of the Spirit to prepare for the future, new challenges and to trying to find new ways to announce the Good News. We are slow to read the “signs of the times.”

We tend to give preeminence to certainties, beliefs, traditions and doctrines to strengthen faith and greater ecclesial cohesion in front of the modern society’s challenges, but often this way of doing things do not facilitate the real experience of an encounter with the person of Jesus. Indeed, have we forgotten that Jesus is stronger than we are? Religious doctrines, usually expressed in premodern and Greek-European language and categories, do not seem to touch the hearts of people who are encouraged to conversion. We have abandoned the refreshing breath of the Vatican II Council. As a result, many churchgoers abandoned the spirit of joy the Council awoke in the early times and given way to resignation and pessimism. Thus, in a silent but noticeable way, disaffection and mistrust in the church’s institutions grows in not few believers.

It is urgent to create a friendlier and more cordial atmosphere in our communities as soon as possible. A healthy combination of doctrine and tradition together with new inspiring ways are needed in order to awaken in the simple people the lost enthusiasm and joy. We need to return to the roots of our faith: we must get again in touch with the Gospel and the encounter with Jesus whose Words are “spirit and life.” This is indeed what means to be baptized.

Within few years, our Christian communities may be very small. In many parishes, there will be no priests permanently. This is why it is important to create now small cores of believers who gather around the Gospel and the person of Jesus. This “critical mass” will keep alive the spirit of Jesus among us. Certainly, everything will be humbler, but also more evangelical.

The best gift we can leave to future generations is a new love for Jesus based on a lifestyle conformed to the enthusiasm and joy of Jesus. Everything else is secondary. If we live from the Spirit of Jesus, we shall be able to find new paths forward.

 


Sunday January 6, 2019
The Epiphany of the Lord (C)

Gospel Matthew 2: 1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.  They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

Ebanjelioa Mateo 2: 1-12

Jesus Judeako Belen herrian jaio zen, Herodes erregearen garaian. Jesus jaio ondoren, sortaldeko jakintsu batzuk azaldu ziren Jerusalemen, 2 galdezka: –Non da juduen errege jaioberria? Haren izarra ikusi dugu sortaldean eta gurtzera gatoz. 3 Berri honekin larritu egin zen Herodes erregea, baita Jerusalem hiri osoa ere. 4 Orduan, herriko apaizburu eta lege-maisu guztiak bildu eta Mesias non jaiotzekoa zen galdetu zien. Haiek erantzun zioten: –Judeako Belenen, honela idatzi baitzuen profetak: 6 Eta zu, Judako Belen, ez zara, ez, Judako hirietan txikiena; zuregandik aterako baita buruzagia, Israel nire herria gobernatuko duena. 7 Orduan, Herodesek, jakintsuak isilean deiturik, izarra noiz agertu zitzaien jakin zuen zehatz. 8 Gero, Belenera bidali zituen, esanez: «Zoazte eta jakin xuxen haurraren berri eta, aurkitu ondoren, adierazi niri, neu ere gurtzera joan nadin». 9-10 Erregearen hitz hauek entzunik, abiatu egin ziren. Bidean, sortaldean ikusitako izarra agertu zitzaien eta biziki poztu ziren. Izarra aurretik joan zitzaien, haurra zegoen toki gainean gelditu arte. 11 Etxean sarturik, haurra ikusi zuten Maria bere amarekin eta, ahuspezturik, gurtu; ondoren, beren kutxatilak zabalduz, esku-erakutsiak eskaini zizkioten: urrea, intsentsua eta mirra. 12 Gero, Herodesengana ez itzultzeko oharra ametsetan harturik, beste bide batetik itzuli ziren beren herrialdera.

Finding God in Small Signs

When confronted by Jesus, very different attitudes can be adopted. The story of the Magi tells of the reaction of three groups of people. A group of pagans who seek Him earnestly, guided by the light of a small star. The representatives of the official religion of the Temple, who remain indifferent. And the powerful King Herod who only sees in Jesus a threat against his paranoiac power.

The magi did not belong to the group of the “officially” chosen people. They did not know the “living God of Israel.” We know nothing about their religion nor their ethnic origin. The Gospel only points out at their attentiveness to the reading of the mysteries hidden in the cosmos. These magi were seeking the truth. At a certain moment, they think they discovered a small light that points to a Savior. They need to know who He is and where He lives. Quickly they set on the road. They do not know the exact route they have to follow, but in their hearts the hope burns to find the Light of the world.

Their arrival in the Holy City of Jerusalem causes a general shock. Convened by Herod, the Great Council of “the chief priests and scribes of the people” gather in solemn reunion. The Gospel seems to take some delight in the disappointing performance of the “guardians of true religion.” They could not care less about Truth. These are the very people who represent the God in the Temple but are completely deaf to HIS call. Their religious superiority and arrogance blinds them from seeing God. They know, theoretically, where the Messiah is to be born, but none of them has even gone near to Bethlehem. They are dedicated to worship God but failed to realize that the mystery of God is larger than all religions of the world, and that He has made His own ways to make all His children arrive to the full knowledge of Truth. However, these self-complacent ministers of the Temple will never be able to recognize Jesus.

King Herod, powerful and brutal, only sees in Jesus a threat to his power and is full of cruelty. He will make every effort to annihilate Him. From his oppressive power, he will be ready to “crucify” anyone attempting to bring liberation and humanizing the world.

Meanwhile, the magi continue their search. They refuse to kneel before Herod because they found nothing in him worthy of worship. They also refused to enter in the grandiose and extravagant Temple of Jerusalem. The little light of the Star guides them to the little town of Bethlehem, far from any center of power, to a stable. Upon arrival, all they see is a “child with Mary his mother and Joseph” sleeping in a manger. Nothing else. A child without any power or splendor. A fragile life that needs the care of a mother and a father. This simplicity and powerlessness of a child and the humble presence of his mother and father was enough of a sign to awaken in them the desire to adore.

The story is puzzling. This God, hidden in human frailty, cannot be found and experienced by people installed in power, in religious securities, and self-complacency. God is only revealed to those who, guided by small lights and signs, tirelessly seek to bring hope for the human being in the tenderness and poverty of everyday life.