At the Vigil Mass:
Entrance Antiphon: Bar 5:5—“Arise, Jerusalem, and look to the East and see your children gathering from the rising to the setting of the sun.”
First Reading: Is 60:1-6 — “The glory of the Lord shines upon you.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13 — “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.”
Second Reading: Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6 — “Now it has been revealed that the Gentiles are coheirs of the promise.”
Alleluia: Mt 2:2 — “We saw His star at its rising and have come to do Him homage.”
Gospel: Mt 2:1-12 — “We saw His star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
Communion Antiphon: Rev 21:23 — “The brightness of God illumined the holy city Jerusalem, and the nations will walk by its light.”
At the Mass during the Day:
At the Mass during the Day, the Liturgy of the Word is the same as at the Vigil Mass. The only exceptions are below:
Entrance Antiphon: Mal 3:1; 1 Chr 29:12—“Behold the Lord, the Mighty One, has come; and kingship is in His grasp, and power and dominion.”
Communion Antiphon: Mt 2:2 — “We saw His star at its rising and have come to do Him homage.”
According to John Hildesheim’s History of the Three Kings, the Magi came from India, Persia, and present-day Iran and Iraq. They met in Jerusalem, and went from there to Bethlehem. After worshiping our Lord, they returned to India where they built the church in which they themselves are buried.
Two hundred years later, Saint Helena, mother of the Roman emperor, Constantine, recovered their bodies from India and laid them in a beautifully ornamented casket that she placed in the church of Saint Sophia in Constantinople. In the sixth century, the Emperor Mauricius moved them to Milan, Italy, where they remained until the 12th century. At that time the Holy Roman emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, appealed to the archbishop of Cologne for help to recapture the rebellious city of Milan. The emperor gave the Magi’s relics to the archbishop, who placed them in his cathedral in Cologne, where they remain. While it cannot be definitively proven that these are indeed the bones of Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar, there is enough circumstantial evidence to indicate that they are the men who left everything to find Jesus Christ.
The Magi show us that divine providence will lead us to fulfill our destiny and earthly riches cannot sustain us. The Magi seemingly had everything yet realized something was missing. The star of Bethlehem was a miraculous act of divine providence that led them to the most precious treasure of all: Jesus. The star signaled Jesus as the newborn “King of the Jews.” King Herod the Great said that he, too, wanted to pay homage to this new king. Instead, Herod wanted to kill Him. Like Herod, I think perhaps a lot of us feel the same way at times. Most of us do not want to lose our privileges and recognition to someone else. And in order to prevent any harm from coming to the Christ-child, we see that God told the Magi to ignore Herod’s order.
If you think about it, the only real success comes from serving God. The Israelites were exiled to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness to God. Like many people today, their hearts were easily swayed. Like the Israelites, I think we are content to follow God, obeying His commandments and striving to do His will – until something “better” comes along. We are tempted to leave behind our “boring” faith life and pursue more exciting things like unsavory companions, unholy diversions, or harmful endeavors. In effect, we exile ourselves. While in exile, the Israelites realized the error of their ways. They exchanged a life of holiness for one of misery and hardship. This moved them to repent of their evil ways. The Israelites eventually returned to a renewed Jerusalem, their homeland. They received a life of abundance and then lived according to God’s will. All their time and resources were directed to the praise and glory of God. Our lives will likewise feel abundant when our time and resources are directed to the praise and glory of God.
If you truly think about it, we are privileged to be followers of Jesus Christ. We sometimes take our faith for granted, seeing it as something we chose for ourselves. But in point of fact, our Lord chose us and facilitated the circumstances that led us to our Catholic faith. Just look at Saint Paul ... Paul knew that it was only through God’s grace that he was able to convert and repent of his former ways. He understood that the gift that had been given to him was meant for the good of the human family. Saint Paul considered it a privilege to preach the Good News. It was much more than a duty although he felt obligated to follow God’s commission to spread the Gospel. Paul knew he had been chosen for that time, that place, and that mission. We, too, have been chosen for a specific time, place, and mission ... and like Saint Paul’s circumstances ... these are a privilege and not merely a duty. Each one of us has been commissioned as a disciple of Christ and a prophet who preaches the Good News with our lives. God needs each of us to be instruments of salvation for others.
The Jews returned after the Babylonian exile and were finally ready to embrace God’s plan for them. Saint Paul reminds us that we are all apostles and prophets, called to preach the Gospel with our lives. As we prepare to receive the newborn Jesus into our hearts, let us pray that we may recognize Him alone as our treasure.