Sunday, January 28, 2018

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Even Demons Obey

Today's readings tell us about Jesus' authority and celibacy as a way of life for those who serve the Lord.

In the first reading, we are told about the promise of Christ.  Moses tells the people that a prophet will come from God and from the Hebrews.  All must listen to Him.  We see the foreshadowing of the Messiah. Jesus was born from the lineage of King David. He was a Jew. God sent Him (John 3:16). This is all common knowledge to any Christian who knows his or her faith well. Ordinary Time is a period where we are introduced to Christ and His teachings. A good homilist will capitalize on these readings and educated his congregation about Christ and His origin, as well as, why we should listen to Him. The responsorial Psalm reminds us that we must listen to His voice and not harden our hearts. We must be happy and joyful in the Lord. It pains me to see some fellow Catholics treat the faith as some obligation that is done on Sundays. Moreover, it also pains me to see fellow Catholics live out their faith mechanically. Recently, the Holy Father Pope Francis married a couple while on his flight. I was shocked to see on Twitter the many insults directed at the pope over this. They attacked him for doing this in a plane citing canon law and what not regarding the location of a marriage and so forth. Apparently, they forgot, did not know or willfully ignored the fact that the pope is the legislator in chief, so to speak. This attitude of trying to know more than the pope or thinking one is more Catholic than him or any other Catholic is a hardening of the heart. It is a fake faith that is set on pharisaic tendencies. We must not harden our hearts like this. We must bow down in worship to the Lord and this means being humble.  We are the people He shepherds. God guides us. The Holy Spirit guides the Church. Many times, we may see the Church move in a direction that causes eyebrows to rise. This is a normal reaction. We are human. Humans often do not like anything that appears to be a change. However, we must not harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit by protesting where His wind blows the sails of the Church or boat of Peter.

The second reading reminds us how important it is to serve God. It is so important that everything else becomes secondary or non-existent.  St. Paul tells us that those who are unmarried are concerned about the things of the lord. Those who are married are concerned about significant others and family. St. Paul suggests that those who want to serve God remain as he is, celibate and chaste. This is why our Church values celibacy. Celibacy is not a dogma, it can be done away with. It is a mere discipline. This does not mean that it is bad. Celibacy is practical for the reason St. Paul tells us. Those who are celibate can focus on God. This does not mean that those who are married cannot serve God. They can and do serve God in their respective state of life. However, a priest or religious serves God all the time in the life of the Church. He or she has no family, wife or husband to care for or attend to. There is talk now about ordaining older men to serve in remote areas. This is possible and a good solution to areas which lack a priest. However, this does not mean that celibacy will be done away with. The Roman or Latin rite will always have celibacy as its rule. Orthodox Churches allow their priests to marry. However, their bishops are not married. By being celibate, a man can focus on God and his parish. Can you imagine a priest with a wife and kids serving at a parish? The priest would have to earn a better wage to care for his family. He would have to be on call for both his family and parishioners and so on. This would make things extremely difficult. In fact, the Catholic Church restored celibacy as the rule because of this and the fact that widows wanted Church property after their priest-husbands passed away. celibacy makes sense and allows a man (priest/brother) and a woman (religious sister) to grow more in the Lord and focus on Him and the Church. 

Finally, the in the Gospel, we read of Jesus speaking with authority. He taught the people and astonished them. Jesus was a carpenter's son. He was not a doctor, lawyer, physicist etc. Jesus did not have a high school diploma or college degree. Those things did not exist then, but the point is that Jesus was not "well-educated" in the sense that we understand education. He was a simple soul living in Israel. However, He spoke better than the best philosophers and teachers of Judaism in His time.  His knowledge is greater that even Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, Augustine, Scotus, Einstein, Hawking etc.  This was because He was and IS the one. He was the Messiah that was expected by the Jews. He spoke in God's name because He is God and the Son of God. His authority is so great that even the unclean spirits obeyed when He told them to shut up and leave the man in the synagogue. If any other human told a demon to shut up, that human would be tossed around like a doll. This is why an exorcist can only cast out demons in Jesus' name and not his own. The Church's authority, the popes and clergy's authority; even the Bible's authority comes from Jesus Christ.  The aforementioned would be nothing but mere men and books without Christ. 

Jesus was the God-Man; two natures and one personhood. He is Emmanuel or God among us. All authority is His. He existed before all else existed as we read in the first chapter of John. Today's Gospels hows us that Jesus is the one Moses spoke of. He speaks for God and comes from the Hebrews. We see how God is not a liar. When God says something will happen or not happen, that is what will be. This is why we who believe in Jesus Christ must never fear even when things are hairy in life.  Life is hard. Life is tough. Life can beat us up. However, we believe in the one who has authority over it. We believe in the one who has authority even over the demons of hell and of death itself. God is awesome.  Let us praise our Lord Jesus Christ who is loving and merciful.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: God Calls, Listen!

The Christmas season is over and we are now in "Ordinary Time." Ordinary time is not just an "ordinary" period, so to speak. The Church gives this time this name just to distinguish between the days where we celebrate important Christ-centered days and regular days. However, this period is extraordinary in my opinion. It is during this time that we get more indepth in Scriptural readings, particular the teachings of Christ.


In the first reading, we read about Samuel who was sleeping in the temple of the Lord. God's house is a refuge for all. It is also our home. This is why we see Catholic Churches always open up church property to those who need help. Last year, a big fire broke out in my old Belmont neighborhood in the Bronx. Originally 12 perished, but a few weeks ago, another member of a family who lost almost everyone also passed after being in a coma. As the fire broke out and the tragedy was taking place, Father Morris, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was immediately on scene and offered help to victims. Another local parish, St. Martin of Tours teamed up with the NYPD's 48th precinct and started a goods-drive to help survivors. You can read more here:

God's house is a home for all. This was why Samuel was comfortable sleeping in the temple eventhough he was not familiar with the Lord, as we are told in the reading. God calls to him, but Samuel thinks it was Eli. Eli tells him to go back to sleep. God kept calling Samuel until Samuel realized that it was the Lord when Eli told him to say "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." Eli realized that God was calling Samuel and Samuel had to respond. When God calls, we must answer. Sometimes we do not realize it at first. We are told that Samuel grew up or matured. God was with him.  This passage reminds me of myself as an atheist and other atheists today. God is always calling us. Sometimes, we are so caught up in the world that we think it is someone else calling us; or something else. Many times, we hear of atheist scientists coming up with all kinds of explanations to refute, or attempt to refute, God's personal interaction with us. Atheist psychologists say that that "voice or perception of God" we experience is just man's brain giving agency to something due to stress or some other thing. We develop this defense mechanism in order to cope. Other scientists claim the universe appeared out of nowhere due to gravity and formed randomly without any God. I can go on and on. The truth is that we often put on a mental block that attempts to ignore God and attribute His callings to something natural. We go to "Eli," so to speak, instead of God. We must listen to God and say, "Here I am, your servant is listening." Afterwards, God will be with us and will guide us just as He did with Samuel.  God calls even the youth. Young people must never be afraid, ashamed or scared away from serving God (1 Timothy 4:12). They are an important part of the Catholic Church. 

The responsorial Psalm responds to the first reading with the phrase, "Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will." This must be our words every day of our lives. In fact, this is the first prayer I say when I wake up even before I start the Liturgy of the Hours. I recommend that you use the same short prayer. It is short and simple, but very powerful and inspirational. God is always with us, but will not impose Himself on us. This is why He calls to us and we have the choice to answer. He hears our cries and all of our problems as the Psalm says. However, He will not intervene unless we give permission. I know it sounds strange. How can a mortal and finite creature give God permission?  God who made all things seen and unseen. This is just a reminder of how God is so humble and genuine. How He is so loving and merciful and truly loves us. His love is not manic or sick. It is pure love. It is Himself because He is love! God does not need us. He wants us!  He loves us.  In the second reading, we read that our bodies belong to God. Those baptized are part of the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. We must care for our bodies and not abuse them. This means living as healthy as possible both spiritually and physically. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Think about this. The Holy Spirit dwells in us. That is awesome! When we have guests over at our homes, we often tidy up the place. We want our guests to feel comfortable in a clean and welcoming environment. Does the Holy Spirit deserve worse that this? I think not!  The Holy Spirit deserves the best tidiness we can offer. This is where the sacraments and prayer come in. We must be in a state of grace so that the Holy Spirit can have a beautiful temple to dwell in. We were purchased at a price as St. Paul says in this reading. This price was Christ shedding His blood on the Cross!  We must glorify God in our bodies. Today, many abuse the body with alcohol, drugs and other bad things. Others abuse the body by turning it into a sex show for others. Men go to gyms, women go to gyms to look "sexy" so they can appease others. This is not what our bodies are for. If God wanted humans to be "sexy" or have their goal to become "sexy," we would not age and fall apart. We would be ageless creatures. However, we know this is not the reality. We age, we get sick and fall apart. The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord.

Lastly, in the Gospel, we are introduced by St. John the Baptist to Jesus. The Monday after the Epiphany, we celebrated the Baptism of the lord. Today, we read about Jesus being described by John as the "Lamb of God." This phrase can be understood only via the Old Testament. After God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, He provided a sacrificial lamb (Genesis 22:8). This was a foreshadowing of Christ who is the Lamb God provided as the sacrifice. We all know what sacrifice this was. If you guessed the Cross, then you are correct! Jesus is the Lamb of God. When you go to Mass, focus on this phrase a little more. It has a lot of meaning behind it. It should remind us that Jesus is the pure Lamb that shed His blood for us. We are not worthy to come under His roof. He must say the word. He must call us like He did with Samuel in today's reading. Jesus is introduced to us in the Gospel for today. He is the Rabbi or teacher. He will guide us and educate us in God's ways. Jesus tells us, "Come, and you will see." He calls out to us. We must make the choice to follow Him. Listen to God's voice in your life now and each day. He calls out to you. Do not ignore Him. Do not attribute His calling to another agency. He truly calls you.  Come and see the Messiah whose birth we celebrated. He will not disappoint!  May Jesus Christ be praised. 

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Cosmos with Neil Degrasse Tyson is back for Spring 2019!

Dr. Sagan's famous series "Cosmos" (see: was rebooted in 2014 with Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson as the host. The series was successful but did not return for another seasons. Many expected that the series would continue with Dr. Micho Kaku. However, those rumors have turned out to be false.  Neil Degrasse Tyson has announced via Twitter that he and the Cosmos reboot will be returning in 2019 on Fox and The National Geographic channel.

This is exciting news!  I hope parents will watch with their children so that they can learn science.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Epiphany of the Lord: God Welcomes All & Science Leads to God

Today is the Epiphany of the Lord.  The word Epiphany comes from the Greek word "epiphainen" which means to reveal or shine upon.  This day celebrates the main revelations of the person of Christ as God and man. The main times we see this is when the Magi visit Christ (Matthew 2:1-12) -which we celebrate today,- at the Baptism of Christ (Mark 1:9-11) when the Holy Spirit descends on Christ and God the Father reveals Christ as His only begotten Son; the next moment is at the Wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11) where Jesus performs His first miracle due to the intercession of His Mother Mary.  In this, her last recorded words are shown, "Do whatever He tells you."  Great advice from mom right? 

We also know of this day as the day the Magi or Three Kings came to pay homage to the child Jesus. The story of the Magi, Wise men or Three Kings is one that has always gotten my attention even as an atheist.  This story of three men coming from far away guided only by a star to adore a child is one that captures the imagination. The "Three Kings" or Magi (Wise men) traveled a long distance to find the child-God.  God used His own cosmic version of a GPS to guide them with a bright star, so to speak. This star could have been a comet, Jupiter, Venus or Saturn, or a conjunction of them; some believe it may have been a Stella Nova - when stars illuminate brightly for a brief moment and then return to their normal brightness.  Jesus is the light that illumines the Magi and us today (John 8:12). This stellar phenomenon should remind us of this.   At midnight Mass, we read about the light shining on those in darkness (see:  At around December 22, ancient peoples noticed that the days got darker and began to get longer afterwards.  They linked this to their beliefs surrounding their understanding of the divine. It seems to me that God was preparing man for Christ by guiding primitive religions to collect their beliefs around this time which would become the time of the birth of Christ.  In the Catholic Church, we call this Divine Pedagogy.  Christ is the light the brightens up the darkness. The story of the Magi gives us clues.  These men were outsiders to the Jewish faith, yet they were drawn to the Jewish Messiah.  We will get into this in a little bit.

One can literally visualize the night.  It is such an event that many cultures treat it like another Christmas day.  Latino cultures often hand out gifts to children while reenacting the visit of the Wise Men.  This is a great way to evangelize at an early age.  However, the story is much more deeper than three men who are stopping by to visit a baby as if it were a divine baby shower.  They are bringing with them gifts that have specific meanings. I wrote more on this on my 3 Kings Day (Epiphany) post.  Each came to bring gifts to the child-God Jesus Christ; the gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.   The gifts often are viewed as symbols of Christ's Royalty, Divinity, and Death.  Others view them as Faith, Hope and Charity. This is mentioned in today's first reading.  We read of "... the caravans of camels and dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense.." As a student of science, this story brings to mind the fact that these men were men of science and they searched for God in the stars.  Science and Faith are not opposed to each other as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated when he spoke of St. Albert, "St. Albert reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that scientists can, through their vocation to study nature, follow an authentic and absorbing path of sanctity." Today, we have the Hubble telescope and all these satellites in space that take amazing high definition images of the universe.  These images never fail to "wow" scientists and amateur astronomers alike.
Carina Nebula

The Wise Men represent the "outsiders;" the Gentiles, Pagans and others who were not part of the Chosen People - Israel.  They represent all the different races coming to meet the Christ child.  God calls out to them as well and they come to Him (John 10:16).  God wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

Unfortunately, many times some Catholics promote Triumphalism instead of Catholicism. Triumphalism in the Catholic sense is the attitude that the Catholic religion is superior to other faiths and/or better.  While the Catholic Church does contain the fullness of truth and is necessary for salvation, this does not mean that we are the best or should put others down who are not of our faith.

The story of the Magi shows that God is not prejudice.  While He did choose a particular people, He is Father of all.  He brings others to the faith by their own means many times.  Other faiths are not perfect, but they have the right idea that God does exist and loves us.  The Catechism puts it well:

843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332

In 2014, Pope Francis touched on this, specifically the Pope's homily.  As usual, Pope Francis broke from his written text briefly to invite those Catholics who are indifferent, left the Church as well as atheists to the faith.  He said:

"I would like to tell all those who feel far from God and the church — and I say this respectfully to those who are afraid or indifferent: The Lord calls you and wants you to be part of his people and does so with great respect and love! The Lord doesn't proselytize, he gives love and this love looks for you, waits for you — for you who don't believe or have drifted away. This is the love of God."

The Pope is right.  The Lord does not proselytize.  He ate and drank with sinners and those who were the pariah of society during His day (Matthew 9:11).  Unfortunately, this behavior is often mistaken as Jesus being too open to all that He doesn't care about their behavior.  This of course is not true for He, while accepting and respecting all, called them to repent (John 8:11).  God calls out to those who are not in the faith.  He has His way of bringing them back.  This is why I love Pope Francis' "meet them where they're at" philosophy.  I have always believed this.

We must be patient with those who left the Church or were never part of it.  We must not judge them or treat them as if they are defects in the world.  Pope Francis has showed already how by simply respecting others brings them to consider God and Catholicism.  Many homosexuals, atheists, protestants and others are opening up more to the Catholic Church even to the point of attending Mass because of this.

We must meet them where they are at on the path to God. Once we meet them there, we can direct them to the right road, so to speak.  You can't given directions from miles away, you have to be close to the lost party.  We must go to them.  It is no wonder why the image on Pope Francis' pectoral cross is that of the Good Shepherd that leaves the 99 behind to get the one that wandered off (Matthew 18:12-14).

Regardless of how others pray, have liturgy; or their attitudes on God and faith, we must trust that God will use these to bring them back to Him just like He used nature, astrology and science to bring the Wise Men to the Christ child.  Science is not anti-God.  Many atheists believe it to be the "killer of God;" however this is not so.  The more we learn about the cosmos and our own planet, the more we realize that the only logical explanation for their existence is an intelligent Creator. This part of the story of the Wise Men is what I like to reflect on being that my area of studies are the sciences.

In the story we see how science leads the Wise Men to God.  This is exactly what happened to me when I was an atheist (See "From Atheist to Catholic..").  I wasn't wooed into Catholicism by preachers, Bibles, Catechisms, theological books, EWTN, Popes etc.  It was science, specifically the science of physics that opened my mind to the Logos.  The popular suggestion "there was a big bang, then processes developed and we came from there.. accept it" did not satisfy my young scientific mind.  I need logical answers, not quick assumptions.  Saying that we're here due to processes and that's how it is does not cut it for me, so to speak.  Like the Wise Men, I needed to get closer to "whom the Star pointed to."  In my case, to whom particles and forces that make up the universe pointed to.

The story of the Wise Men shows that God is always in control of Salvation.  We are not the one who save others.  It is God who brings people to Himself.  As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI puts so well in his Jesus of Nazareth - The Infancy Narratives:

"The key point is this:  the wise men from the east are a new beginning.  They represent the journeying of humanity toward Christ.  They initiate a procession that continues throughout history.  Not only do they represent the people who have found the way to Christ: they represent the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religions and human reason toward Him." (pg. 97)      
In the first reading, we read of Jerusalem being told to rise up in splendor, her light has come.  The glory of the Lord shines on her. Darkness covers the earth and thick clouds the people, but God shines through. This light is of course Jesus Christ the Lord (John 8:12)!  Our world is in so much darkness.  Evil is never good. Violence is never good. These affect our psychology. Human beings were not made for violence. We are the only creatures on earth without physical defenses.  Other animals have claws, venom, quills, etc to defend themselves. We do not.

This is why we need Christ the light who illumines minds and hearts keeping us away from evil and violence. The light of the world is Christ and we need to seek Him.  We need to seek Him just like the Three Kings or Magi who came from Midian, Ephah and Sheba with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh did.  However, our gift to Jesus must be the perfection of faith, hope and love in our lives.  This is what Jesus wants from us. 

All nations will adore the Lord, as we read in today's responsorial Psalm.  God is king over all the earth.  All rulers will pay homage to Him just like the Magi did.  We are the Magi of today coming before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament offering our lives.  I have always loved the Magi. They were instrumental in my conversion because they were men of science who used the stars to find Christ.  In science, we can find God as well! God's creation points to God just like the star pointed to Christ (Job 12:7-10, Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20). The late astronaut and first American in space John Glenn said after seeing the earth from space, "To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible."

Relics of the Wise Men
The magi found the Lord via the science of the stars, astronomy.  We know of their names as Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior from the document Excerpta et Collectanea which is attributed to St. Bede who died in 735.  Their relics are in the cathedral in Cologne, Germany.

You can read another reflection I wrote here for January 6: In it, I elaborate more on how the Magi represents all the outsiders. The second reading reminds us as well by telling us that Gentiles are also coheirs and part of the body of Christ.

Christ was born for all people of all races, genders, orientation, faiths; in every time and place. He is the Savior of all!  The Gospel tells us that great story.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem and the magi came from the east asking King Herod where the newborn king of the Jews was. Herod did not like this because he saw himself as the king of the Jews. He asked the magi to bring him the child so he too can adore Him. They found the child via the star and saw Mary with Him.  The magi prostrated themselves and paid homage to the child and gave Him the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh as prophesied in the first reading of today. Before departing, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod.  They listened and returned home via a different route.

The Epiphany is an awesome celebration in our faith. Many cultures celebrate it as another Christmas. Kids put hay under their beds for the camels and wake up to find the hay missing and gifts in their place. Other cultures have feasts and other celebrations commemorating the visit of the magi. To me, the magi represents all peoples outside of Israel and academia coming to worship the Lord. This is my personal reflection. The stars and all of nature pays homage to God and leads us to admire Him via His creation.

May we continue to look for the Christ child and stay focused on the Star which is God's grace.

Please remember to help me with this ministry which is focused on reaching out to those in the dark.  Please be generous as the Magi were and consider donating or becoming a regular donor. Any amount is useful. God can do anything with any amount.  You can donate via Paypal or  God will reward you!  I have already received emails from donors who received many blessings just months after donating.  As soon as I get permission from them, I will share those emails.  I am not a business man nor investor so I rely on God's providence and how He inspires visitors and readers to donate.  Financial means is not the only way to help. You can pray and also volunteer your talents.  God bless you and Mary keep! 


Here are more reflections from holy writers:

There is something more that must be understood about the gold, incense and myrrh. Solomon testifies that gold symbolizes wisdom when he says, "A pleasing treasure lies in the mouth of the wise." The psalmist bears witness to that incense which prayer offers to God when he says, "Let my prayer ascend as incense in your sight." The myrrh indicates the mortification of our bodies, of which the holy church speaks of its workmen who strive even unto death on behalf of God, "My hands dripped with myrrh."
And so do we too offer gold to the newborn king if we shine in his sight with the brightness of the wisdom from on high. We too offer him incense if we enkindle on the altar of our hearts the thoughts of our human minds by our holy pursuit of prayer, so as to give forth a sweet smell to God by our heavenly desire. And we offer him myrrh if we mortify the vices of our bodies by our self-denial.
Myrrh brings it about, as I have said, that dead bodies do not decompose. For a dead body to decompose is the same as for the human body of ours to become a slave to the decay of dissoluteness, as is said by the prophet: "The pack animals have decomposed in their own dung." This indicates fleshly minded persons who end their lives in the stench of dissoluteness. Therefore we are offering myrrh to God when we employ the spice of self-restraint to keep this earthly body of ours from decomposing through decadence.

— St. Gregory the Great
(540 - 604)

Source: "Forty Gospel Homilies, 10.6," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 28-29.

"Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word." Appropriately did Herod say, "Bring me word," for the one who hastens to come to Christ always brings a word of renunciation to the devil. When the priest says to the future Christian, "Do you renounce the devil?" the latter will answer, "I do renounce him." Properly therefore are the magi instructed to bring word to Herod, who realized he was taking the place of the devil. Satan knew how to corrupt a person.
"That I may come and worship him." He wants to lie but he cannot. He who feigned adoration will come that he might bow to abuse, kneel to inflict punishment, recline to do harm.… But when the clouds of treachery have passed, in the fair weather of emerging Christian faith, the magi behold again the star they had seen, preceding and leading them on. Finally they arrive at the most holy place of the Lord's birth.
— St. Peter Chrysologus
(380 - 450)

Source: "Sermons 158.8-9," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 25.

Since Herod was king, he was naturally afraid both for himself and for his children. But why was Jerusalem troubled? Surely the prophets had foretold him as the Savior, Benefactor and Deliverer who would come from above. But Jerusalem remained troubled by the same idolatrous affections that had previously caused them to turn from God precisely when God was pouring out his greatest benefits on them. While God was offering them new freedom, they were once again mindful only of the fleshpots of bondage in Egypt…
Although troubled, they nevertheless did not try to understand what was happening. They did not follow the wise men or even take any particular notice. To this extent were they both contentious and careless. This happened just when those in Jerusalem under Herod had reason to pride themselves that a king was being born among them. This had even attracted the attention of the wise from Persia. They were on the point of having everything going their way, as though their affairs were advancing toward improvement. But most did not even take notice. Amid an empire that had become so magnificent, they showed little improvement.
Jerusalem had only recently been delivered from subjugation. It might have been more reasonable for them to think, If the Persians tremble before this king now merely at his birth, wouldn't they tremble much more when he grows up? They would fear and obey him, and our situation might then be more glorious than that of the barbarians. Even if they knew nothing of mysteries or revelations but formed their judgments only on the basis of present self-interest, they surely might have thought along these lines. But nothing like this really occurred to them, so great was their dullness in prophecy and envy in human affairs.
Such dullness and envy must be rooted out of our minds. One must be more impassioned than fire to stand up against such an array. This is why Christ said, "I am come to send fire on earth, and how I wish it were already kindled." And the Spirit on this account appeared in fire.
— St. John Chrysostom
(347 - 407)

Source: "The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 6.4," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 22–23.


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