What extravagant promises this reading contains! The prophet speaks of “splendour,” “glory,” “radiance,” and overflowing heart, and the “wealth of nations.” And who first heard these glowing words? Exiled Jews who had just recently returned to a Jerusalem in ruins. Somehow, the words of the prophet didn’t quite match up with the realities on the ground. But that didn’t stop these believers from rolling up their sleeves and working to bring about the glory that had been promised to them. Similarly, how did the Magi recognize an earth-shaking event in the humble stable with Joseph and Mary? Even the religious and political leaders of Israel missed the birth of the Messiah. So how could these pagan foreigners fall to their knees so readily, and offer such valuable treasures to this lowly child? Again, their expectations didn’t match up with what they found when they first laid eyes on the Holy Family. Like the Magi and the returning exiles, we have been given great and precious promises not only about a heavenly kingdom, but also about God’s rule breaking into our world here and now. Much of it depends on God’s timing, but a lot depends on us. Every day, God invites us to roll up our sleeves and get to work building his kingdom. Every day, he reassures us that even our smallest acts of love contain within themselves the splendour and glory of heaven.
Today’s feast tells us that the glory of God can be present in the most hidden and unlikely people and situations. It tells us that God is there in the everyday rhythms of our lives. May he give us eyes of faith to see him and trusting hearts to build the kingdom with him. The results will be spectacular!