January 4, 2022; class #13 (Tuesday after 2nd Sunday of Christmas.)
Matthew 2: Magi visit Messiah. Escape to Egypt. Massacre of infants. Return from Egypt.
CLICK for audio recording of this lesson

Let’s begin with the Sign of the Cross:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of your faithful. Light the fire of your love in them. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you will renew the face of the earth. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Do you remember what color chasuble the priest was wearing at Mass this weekend?
We’re done with purple now. That ended when the Christmas season began. The color for the Christmas season is white, and we’re still in the Christmas season. Father Giese and Father Hammond wore white chasubles at Mass this past weekend.

We have two new words this week. They look and sound like the same word, but one word begins with a capital letter, and one does not:

epiphany Epiphany

The word "epiphany” (with no capital letter) means the moment when you finally understand something clearly. It’s like, “Oh! I get it now. I understand now.” That is an epiphany moment.

The word "
Epiphany” (beginning with a capital letter, like a name) means the Christian holiday when we remember when the wise men (the magi) arrived in Bethlehem to honor Jesus as God's chosen one. That holiday is celebrated on January 6th. We celebrate the Epiphany 12 days after Christmas, but it was more than 12 days after Jesus' birth when the magi finally reached Jesus and gave him their gifts.

At Mass this weekend, the Gospel reading was from the Gospel of Matthew.  I’m going to tell you the story from the Bible, in words that you can understand more easily. But first, there are two things that you will need to know:

1st, another word for “wise men” is “magi.” No, the magi were not kings. They were wise men who studied the stars and other things that they could see in the sky: comets and planets and the sun and anything else.

And, 2nd, when Jesus was born, there was a region called “Judea.” It is in a place that now is in the southern part of the nation of Israel.  The biggest city in Judea was called “Jerusalem.” Near Jerusalem was the village where Jesus was born, Bethlehem. Remember that Mary and Joseph had been in Nazareth when they began their trip to Bethlehem. Nazareth is about 90 miles north of Bethlehem. Nazareth was in a region called “Galilee.”

Here are maps to show you where Israel is.
First, here is a map of the whole world. You know that the world is round, and you know what a globe is, but this is the best we can do with a flat map.

We are in the United States, near where the red X is on the left side. Israel is near where the other red X is. To get there, we’d have to cross the Atlantic Ocean and then go all the way across the Mediterranean Sea — past Spain and Morocco, and past France and Algeria, and past Italy and Lybia, and past Greece and Egypt, all the way to the east side of the Mediterranean Sea.

This next map shows the region of Judea (with Jerusalem and Bethlehem) and the region of Galilee (with Nazareth). This is a map showing the area when Jesus was born.  The three red
X’s  (from top to bottom) show Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem. And you see that the Jordan River goes from the Sea of Galilee in the north, to The Dead Sea in the south.

The big city in Judea was the city of Jerusalem. It was a very large city. About four miles south of Jerusalem was the little village of Bethlehem. The king of all of Judea was King Herod. Judea was  controlled by the Roman Empire, and the ruler of the Roman Empire was a man named “Caesar Augustus.” That is why there were Roman soldiers in Jerusalem, and that is why it was Caesar Augustus who ordered the census to be taken that made Joseph have to  travel to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.

Click to hear the teacher read:

So, here is what the Bible says:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the magi (or wise men) who had been traveling from the East arrived in the city of Jerusalem. They asked people, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it began rising, and we have come to worship the child.”

King Herod lived in Jerusalem. When King Herod heard what the magi were asking people, he was frightened. He called together his advisors. He asked them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea.” Then King Herod called for the magi, and he learned from them when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem. He told them, “Search for the child. When you find him, bring word to me so that I also may go and worship him.”

After the magi heard from King Herod, they set out for Bethlehem. And there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising. They followed the star until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw where the star stopped, they were very happy. The magi entered the house (a house, not a stable). The magi saw the child Jesus with Mary, his mother. The magi knelt down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure chests. They offered the child gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The magi were warned in a dream not to return to King Herod. Because of that, the magi returned to their own country by another road.

After the magi left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. The angel said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt. Remain there until I tell you. King Herod is going to search for the child, to destroy him.” It was night time, but Joseph got up. He took the child Jesus and his mother Mary and fled to the country of Egypt.

When King Herod learned that the magi had not returned to tell him where the child Jesus was, it angered Herod. He ordered that all children in and around Bethlehem who were under two years old were to be killed. (We call those children who were killed “the Innocents.” Every year, three days after Christmas Day, there is a special Mass said for those children. It is called “The Feast of the Innocents.”)

Sometime later, King Herod died. When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in Egypt and told him that Herod had died. The angel said, “Take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. The people who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then, Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Israel and made their home in the town of Nazareth, in the district of Galilee.

Here’s a quick video that also tells the story. And because this story is so important, the story is offered to you in a few ways:

There also is the story in the children’s bulletin. You can read the story and do some of the puzzles. Here are the pages, page by page:

Those words say,
The Visit of the Magi
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, during the time of King Herod, magi (wise men) from the East came to Jerusalem.

And the little game is for you to find what the magi said. Follow the spiral to the picture of Jerusalem in the center of the spiral. Begin with the first letter. Then, write the letters in order on the lines below the spiral.

The words at the top of the page say,
Why did the magi say they had come?

And the little game is for you to fill in the two blank spaces where words have been left out. Use the words that are under the picture of the magi:
We saw his
____ in
the ____
and have
come to
worship him.

And the 3rd page says,
The star led the magi to the place where the child Jesus was.

And the game on this page is to draw a line from where the magi are to Jesus, and not get caught where the road is blocked off.

And on the 4th page, the words say,
The magi opened their treasures and gave gifts to the child Jesus. What were the gifts? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The game on this page is a hard one. You are supposed to color every space that has a diamond shape in it. You can do the puzzles later, or whenever you get a printed page, or you can just look and figure it out.

And in the end, here is the story as told in the church bulletin:

The Visit of the Magi
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem,
during the time of King Herod,
magi (wise men) from the East
came to Jerusalem.
Why did the magi say they had come?
They said,
“We saw his star in the east
and have come to worship him.”
The star led the magi
to the place where the child Jesus was.
The magi opened their treasures
and gave gifts to the child Jesus.
What were the gifts?
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Coloring sheets:
(Click to see the full size, which can be downloaded.)

The 1st coloring sheet shows the magi in the house, giving gifts to the child Jesus.
The 2nd sheet shows Joseph taking Mary and Jesus away from Bethlehem as the little family fled to the country of Egypt.
The 3rd coloring sheet shows the family resting in Egypt.

The 3rd coloring sheet is special. It is based on a beautiful and well-known painting that was made over 140 years ago by an artist named Luc-Oliver Merson. The name of the painting is "Rest on the Flight into Egypt." It's a painting. It's not a photograph. It's the artist's way of telling a story. He showed Mary resting on a famous statue that is in Egypt. The statue is called "The Sphinx." The Sphinx doesn't exactly look like that, but that's the way the artist painted it to tell the story of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. And, with your coloring sheet, you can color what the famous artist painted. Here is the artist's painting, so that you can see the colors he used:

If you click on that picture, you will see a bigger version of the painting. In the painting, you see Mary resting in the arms of the Sphinx. She is holding her child, Jesus. There is lighting around Jesus. Joseph is lying on the ground, with his feet bare. All around is sand. The donkey's saddle has been removed, and the donkey is eating some of the few bits of grass that are growing. There is a tiny fire with smoking going straight up.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Saint Michael the Archangel, please defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke the devil, we humbly pray.
And do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits,
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.