Can Jerusalem be More Than a Graveyard?

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During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times—according to online sources. Today it is again the center of conflict between new generations of warring factions, each claiming it as its capital.

Quite a difference from Isaiah’s vision of reverence for this region (Is 60:1-6):

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.

Today we remember when the three magi journeyed to Jerusalem so they could share in, NOT claim, the radiance that put Jerusalem on our spiritual map:

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. (Mt 2:1-12)

Today Jerusalem is still coveted, more as a matter of territorial pride than for its spiritual significance as the site of our Savior’s birth. At the time of that birth, it was King Herod’s murderous territorial pride that caused the Holy Family to find another home. He was ready to eliminate any rival to his territorial and titular claims.

Jesus’ parents knew their child was his target, and Mary was reminded constantly throughout her Holy Family’s journey together of the danger her son posed to such evil forces. Of particular significance is what Simeon told her at their son’s presentation:

“This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (LUKE 2:34-38)

Judging by the gifts they journeyed to bring the baby Jesus, the magi seemed to understand better than anyone the significance of HIS journey:

—gold representing the precious gift his life represented to humanity,

—myrrh the purified oil that would anoint him for his death to this world,

—frankincense, symbolizing how his liberated spirit would rise up to meet his Father but leave a fragrant aura that would linger among us.

That spiritual essence continues seeking a home in the heart of anyone adopting Isaiah’s vision for Jerusalem as a beacon of world peace rather than as a graveyard for enemies.

–Tom Andel


  1. May the Spirit of the living God help us to imitate the Magi in our personal search to find the Lord Jesus.

    What else really matters?

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