Happy Epiphany! The readings from today’s Gospel, Jan. 6, feature special visitors who came to Jesus, bringing him gifts because it was revealed to them that he is someone special.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow…
Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
…the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Jesus’ birth is celebrated in the Bible with two birthday parties. The first (that we hear on Christmas Eve) was from the Gospel of Luke. The guests that day were shepherds—people who were looked down on; poor and inconsequential. They were the first invited to meet God.
The second is today’s story where the guests are Magi—people that we understand to be wealthy enough to bring extravagant gifts, travel very far (which was expensive and difficult) and get an audience with King Herod. And they were not Jewish. These stories together tell us that God invites the very poor and the very rich, the ones who didn’t know who they were being invited to meet and the ones who sought Jesus out because they did know who he was and people who were Jewish and people who weren’t. God invites everybody.
When people come to our birthday parties, they bring age-appropriate gifts. The gifts that the Magi brought were for when Jesus was older—they represented what he was going to do when he grew up. Gold is for Jesus’ kingship, frankincense (incense) is for his priesthood and myrrh is for how he was going to die for us.
Break Open the Word with Your Family
What is the best birthday present you could receive? What birthday present do you think Jesus would want from you?
If Jesus was born today, based on the stories we have about who was invited to meet him first, who do you think would be the shepherds and Magi today? What groups of people would have been invited first? What groups of people would have come at Epiphany? Who would be trying to kill Jesus?
What do you think about the guest lists for God’s birthday parties? Who are some people in our personal lives that we should be inviting to Jesus?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”