Dear friends. During our pilgrimage to the holy land in October, we visited the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem. Once inside the Church, we queued for two hours to venerate the spot where Jesus was born which is located in the crypt beneath the main altar (see photo below). When we arrived at the spot, we discovered that the main way of venerating was to get down on ones knees in prayerful respect to the Christ- child who was born there all those years ago. As I knelt down on the hard marble, I thought of the three Kings who did the very same at the very same spot as we hear in the Gospel this weekend: ‘and falling to their knees they did him homage’.
Falling to our knees is another way of describing how we worship. We all fall on our knees before something or someone. Even the person who insists they have no faith worships at some altar. It could be power, pleasure, glory, fame, money, sport or a variety of other things. The point is that all of us have something or someone who is our highest good and that which we bow down in adoration and submission. Something or someone who comes first.
The story of the visit of the Magi or three Kings to Bethlehem is remarkable. Here were have three powerful men before whom many fell on their knees in obedience and submission. But before a newly born infant, they were the ones who were bowing down to him in obedience and homage. As three people who received homage, by their actions they submitted all their authority to ‘the infant King of the Jews’ and did him homage.
This feast of the Epiphany is an invitation to join the three Kings on our knees in adoration and worship. But first let’s be clear. Only someone who is adorable is worthy of our adoration. Only someone who is divine is worthy of our worship. Only someone who engages our love is worthy to receive our love in return. And when we look into the crib and gaze at the Christ-child, we ask ourselves those questions. Is Christ who humbled himself to become human so that we could become like God, worthy of adoration and worship? Does the humility of God that we see in his Son born in a stable and lying in a manger engage our love in a way that makes us want to be humble and loving like him? I believe that the answer to these questions is ‘YES’. Like the three Kings and with them we fall on our knees before the infant King not because we have to but because we want to and because we find ourselves before the mystery of God’s love for us made visible and human in the most wonderful way possible.
The next time you enter a Church, take a look at the kneeler attached to the back of every pew. A kneeler invites us to kneel and Church is the only place that invites us to do that. Kneeling is good because it reminds us that we are in the presence of God who humbled himself to share in our humanity so that we might share in the glory of his divinity. Kneeling invites us as creatures to worship our creator.
Let us put God at the centre of our lives in 2019 and put aside the worship of idols and false gods. We become like what we worship. Falling on our knees before the God of humility, innocence, simplicity, goodness, truth, beauty and love will transform us to become more like him. Surely this is the greatest desire we can have this year.