This gospel is a declaration of who Jesus is to Mark’s church, a statement of their self-understanding as disciples of the new messianic times who are sons and daughters of the Father because they are baptized into the Spirit-filled and Beloved Son, and commissioned to serve in his name. Throughout Mark’s gospel, those who follow Jesus will struggle to understand what is revealed to Jesus as he rises from the waters: that humanity, despite its sinfulness, is loved with the prodigal love of God.
When we place the Magi in our Christmas crib, the truth that their visit declares and the symbolism that their presence in the crib proclaims is the gospel truth that Jesus is king for all the nations of the earth. This is what we pray for in the words of the responsorial Psalm 72: the establishment of God’s kingdom of justice and peace throughout the world so that the rights of the poor and helpless are respected and the cries of the needy are answered.
Every family whether gifted with many children or none or one, has a role to play in God’s dramatic story of salvation and share in the miraculous gift of hope children represent. Each child has been willed by God to serve a unique purpose. May and Joseph were “amazed at what was said about” Jesus, for he was the fulfillment of all hopes. But in the reality of the Holy Family, we see the miraculous nature of every child and every family reflected.
As we light the last of the four candles of our Advent wreath, it is up to us, disciples of the Light of the world, to catch fire from Christ’s mystery and bring something of this fire and light into our own lives and, especially, into the lives of those for whom Christmas may not be a feast of joy but a time of darkness. May the fire we catch from Christ be our readiness to be consumed like him in the flame of loving service of our sisters and brothers.