We all know the story of the Wise men coming to worship and pay tribute to Jesus. It is a metaphor of the world finding the light of Jesus. What often goes overlooked is the bravery and courage of the early Christian church. The story in Matthew was written about 55 years after the end of Jesus Ministry and about 10 years after the destruction of the Temple. By this time the church was already reaching out to non-Jewish communities. Paul had established home churches in the area of the Mediterranean Sea. St. Mark had established a church in Egypt, which continues today as the Orthodox Coptic Church. They were, like the Jews a Semitic community of Jesus. Today, they are under a lot of oppression. At one time, Egypt was a Christian country. Today, they continue to survive and proclaim the Good News of Jesus. We pray for them.
The early Christian church was Jewish. It was know as "the Way". After the destruction of Jerusalem and the collapse of the Temple, all Jews, including the followers of Jesus in "the Way" were afraid of outsiders. However, through the teaching of the Mathenian school, as reflected in Matthew's Gospel, they gained courage and realization that following Jesus, they were called to put aside fears and tribalism. Instead of retrenchment they reached out to their enemies. They accepted the white Roman people into their faith community at great risk to themselves as they were afraid that they could be arrested and killed.
Today, we have fear of strangers, differences, and are being manipulated by so called Christians making up "fake news" about people of different colour, beliefs and languages. This does not reflect the love of Jesus. As we enter the new year, let us be lights to the darkness and proclaim the love of Jesus through word and action to the darkness of this world. Happy New Year!