The second chapter is divided into three parts and yet they do form a complete narrative. In v. 1-12 the three Wise Men come from “the east” (i.e. Persia: modern day Iran and Iraq) bearing gifts of gold (a gift to the King of the Jews), myrrh (an anointment used in Jewish burial), and frankincense (used in temple worship to signify Jesus’s Divine Priesthood). But Herod is already the King and he doesn’t want someone else taking over so he conspires to kill Jesus. The Wise Men do not cooperate.
In the second part, v. 13-18, the Holy Family escapes Herod’s wrath into Egypt. While Herod is killing all the newborn boys in Bethlehem, Joseph, again remaining obedient to the Father’s Plan, takes Jesus and Mary to Egypt.
Finally, in v. 19-23, the Holy Family returns to Nazareth and there they settle. Joseph returns to his carpenter’s trade; Mary tends to the home-life; and Jesus grows. The time between now and the beginning of his public ministry has come to be known as the ‘hidden years’ of Jesus. There is nothing written about these ‘hidden years’, but we can assume that Jesus led pretty much a normal life with his mom and dad, learning a trade, learning the Jewish customs; all the while, the Heavenly Father preparing Jesus for his ministry.
Notice the four Old Testament prophecies mentioned in this chapter: v. 6, 15, 18 & 23. Remember that Matthew is writing for Jewish converts to Christianity. The Holy Spirit, writing through St. Matthew, is beginning to reveal the true identity of Jesus: the birth of this boy has been foretold by the Prophets… this is no ordinary baby boy!
Point for Prayer
Go to the manger in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. Stand there among the Holy Family, the animals, the shepherds, and the Wise Men. After the Wise Men present their gifts, what do you have to give to the Child Jesus? What do you lay at his feet as a gift? Will you make a Prayer of Surrender there and give Him your whole life? Amen.