Dear Broadview Family:
When things feel like they’re spinning out of control here — it happens — we reach for the first two chapters of Matthew. Jesus is born, the Magi bear gifts, Herod spills innocent blood, and the holy family flees.
We love these chapters year-round because they’re dense with the feeling of God’s government. Five times, people follow a divine message they hear in a dream. Five times, events fulfil prophesy — and what’s prophesy but an earlier message from God? Two other prophesies, unmentioned in Matthew, foretell the adoration of the Magi.1 And the Magi themselves, astrologer-priests from exotic lands,2 follow a star. Experts in finding links between terrestrial and celestial events, the Magi are also obeying a divine command.
In Matthew’s account, then, messages from God to obedient people, past and present, drive almost all the action. Arrivals and departures are as precise as in any ballet. Events are orchestrated so perfectly that you can almost hear the click of a cosmic metronome. In these chapters, we can feel Isaiah’s promise: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end….”3
We can also feel the following words from Mary Baker Eddy: “God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle.” God orders all that’s real into an exquisite state of harmony because She loves us so much. Harmony is an aspect or outgrowth of Her love. And as we hear and obey Her direction, our actions are integrated into this harmony.
The meaning of these chapters is brought home by this beautiful traditional spiritual. Remember, Jesus was born into an orderly web of prophesies and divine dreams, but he was also threatened by Herod’s sword. According to the spiritual, God tells Mary to meet this threat simply by comforting the child and leaving the rest to the divine. “The Lord told Mary,” the song goes, “just you rock him in a weary land.”5
So what can we take from Matthew 1 and 2 today? If we’re feeling any sort of threat — our own version of Herod’s sword — can we admit that the same confluence of Love and Principle in these chapters brought us into being? Can we accept that there are divine gifts en route to us that are as hard to imagine as gold or frankincense in a stable? Can we relax into feeling soothed and rocked even before we’re carried to safety?
If this feels like too much to ask of yourself, listen again to the spiritual. Let its gentle chords awaken a deeper understanding of “God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle.” And: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end….”
Holiday love to all,
Marivic Bay Mabanag
1 Psalm 72: 10-11 (“The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.”); Isaiah 60:3-6 (“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. … [A]ll they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord.”).
2 Patheos, Fr. D. Longenecker, “The Riddle of the Three Wise Men,” December 2015; The Conversation, “What the Magi Had in Common with Scientists,” December 2016 see also Ellicott’s Bible Commentary for English Readers on Matthew 2:1, 1979 (“[T]he Magi were thought of as observers of the heavens, students of the secrets of Nature.”).
3 Isaiah 9:7 (KJV).
4 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p. 275.
5 See Isaiah 32.1-2 (KJV) (“Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”)