Reflection for January 5th 2020

By Fr. Jim Kelly SJ

Gimaa giizhgat, the chief’s day, celebrated on Manitoulin Island for almost two centuries. This is the day when the chiefs came to pay homage to the baby Jesus. This feast is still celebrated in most of our communities when the Chief and Band Council make an effort to host a feast, and perhaps a naming ceremony. In olden times, and still today, people would go to Mass and make an effort to visit their neighbours and family. Children would go to their relative’s house for a greeting and to receive a small gift. Sometimes the feast could be called gchi gimaa giizhgat recognizing that these great chiefs came from far away for this event.
 
Today’s Gospel from Matthew describes “wise men from the East” coming to find the child who had been “born king of the Jews”. It is a real “epiphany”—a manifestation of God—since these kings have come to encounter another king in the most unexpected of places. These obviously wealthy men (they carry gold and frankincense and myrrh) are powerful enough to decide to make such a journey.
 
But also in today’s Gospel we see how complicated and political we can be as human beings. Herod, the ruler of the whole territory, wants to trick these wise men into betraying the king they find. Only by a dream they are led to escape back to their own land by a different road.
 
Here are questions for us who want so much to be “overwhelmed with joy” as the kings were: What do we hope for? What do we long for?
What was it that these great chiefs saw? They saw a baby born in a poor and simple place.
 
If you or I saw this child born in such poverty and simplicity would we kneel down?
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