1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
In today’s Gospel reading, the baby Jesus is at the center of attention, as news of his birth has spread throughout the region, even reaching the ears of the Wise Men, who travelled a great distance to seek him out. Of course, not all of this attention was good…as the King also heard of the new born baby Jesus, and he was not only jealous, but afraid of what this child may grow up to become!
Our children do seem to get a lot of attention, hopefully it is positive attention, for achievement in school, sports, church, or in community work; but sometimes the attention is not quite so positive, and I am not just referring to those times when our kids may get into trouble and garner negative attention from school or law enforcement officials; I am also referring to those who still give our children negative labels simply because they come from single parent households.
Recently, I was surprised recently to hear an acquaintance refer to someone raised by a single parent as coming from a ‘broken home’! I really did not think that people still thought this way…but as I look back over my time as a single father, and from having known other single parents, I can see how this image of a ‘broken home’ is still sometimes applied, and how the label can have a negative impact on how single parents and their children are treated.
Personally, I do not like the term ‘broken home’, as it can paint ourselves and our children with a negative brush, giving teachers and others the impression that there is something ‘broken’ about our families! Instead of seeing my home as ‘broken’, I prefer to see things as quite the opposite, as I believe that my choice to become a single parent ensured that our home would NOT be broken!
Maintaining a dysfunctional and broken relationship only would have hurt myself, and my daughter (and also her mother for that matter); as the healing of our family could only begin once the marriage was over. I believe that the greatest gift that I could have given my child was the opportunity to grow up in a home that was not broken, and with parents who were able to resolve their differences and to reconcile so that we could work together to ensure that her needs were met without the added difficulty of contentious parents that could not get on the same page: this never would have occurred if we had not separated.
It strikes me as funny that my ex and I had to end our marriage in order to reconcile, and to be able to be available and on the same page for our daughter; that separation actually fixed our broken home and led to healing, but then, that is kind of what happened with Jesus He was born into our broken world, and through his message of God’s love and forgiveness for us all, that is given as a great gift (not earned), he actually began the process of healing our world, of restoring it, and reconciling ourselves to each other, and also to God.
In a very real sense then the gift of the Wise Men to Jesus, was the gift of reconciliation, for when they acknowledged him as Divine, they accepted that the Word of God had come into the world, to act in the midst of our lives, to bring us peace and the love of God; and in paying homage to Jesus, they were also reaching out to connect with God.
As single parents, the formation of our own families, is also an act of reconciliation and restoration, it is a step towards fixing what was once broken, and building something new out of something that did not work. Our gift to our children is restoration and reconciliation, it is a new life that will transform their worlds, and change their futures, break cycles and promote healing.
It is the gift of hope and of love, and teaches them that just because something has been broken, that does not mean it cannot be made whole again, with love, patience and faith in God’s eternal presence in our lives and our world.
Let us Pray
God, thank you for the gift of healing. Thank you that our home that were once ‘broken’ are now in the process of being restored, with the help of your love and the faith we share with each other. Please help us to seek out reconciliation, for the good of ourselves and our children. Let us always strive to improve, and to heal our family life, and thank you that you are always there for us to turn to when the going gets rough, both through the living Christ, and through those who walk with us in his light of hope.