Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Book of the Prophet Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2, 14-15, 17
Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 & Matthew 2:1-12
The Magi by Henry Siddons Mowbray, circa 1915
A small boy was looking up at the night sky and began to gaze at the brightest star. After a while, he began to cry. The star said to the boy, "Why are you crying." The boy answered, "You are so far away. I will never be able to touch you." The star answered, "If I were not already in your heart, you would not be able to see me."
During the season of Christmas, we have been looking upon the scene of the nativity of the Lord; that is, the baby Jesus in the manger. I hope that when you look upon it, you can imagine yourself in baby Jesus' presence with Mary and Joseph. Of course, we can't forget the shepherds and the animals. In today's Gospel, we are introduced to the three wise men from the east, the Magi.
When these three foreigners first saw the baby Jesus, they fell on their knees. They offered Him homage and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold because Jesus is King, frankincense because Jesus is divine, and myrrh to symbolize Jesus' Passion.
The wise men tell us about the star and about Herod, who, at that time, knew nothing about the birth of Jesus. After their stay with the Holy Family, they set out on their journey eastward but not via Jerusalem. They wanted to avoid Herod at all costs. Can you imagine the joy they felt after their Bethlehem experience or their conversation before they departed for their own countries? We may not have gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but we can offer Jesus our devotion and love.
Today's Gospel narrative is the dramatic story of faith, search, and arrival. Matthew pictures the three Magi as fulfilling the prophecy of the first reading from Isaiah as, "Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance," and "The wealth of nations shall be brought to you." The Magi have studied, reflected then followed their decision to follow the star. When they arrive, they fall to their knees in homage before the "New Light," which is not an idea but a person.
Today we celebrate "The Solemnity of The Epiphany of the Lord." The word "epiphany" means "manifestation or display." Imagine a world in total darkness. Then take a simple flashlight and shine its beam on one spot. As you pull the flashlight back, the area that is illuminated widens. The "Epiphany" is the widening of that light and God's embrace of the entire human race.
Jesus is the Light, and in that Light, we have come to know just a bit of what God actually thinks of us. We all must come out of the darkness, kneel before the Light to illuminate ourselves and others as well.
The wise men's journey is one of the most beloved in the New Testament. We can sum it up as a journey of life, being led and guided, and delight in finding faith and God. It is a story of the intrigue of a greedy and jealous king and in good defeating evil. We all especially enjoy the end of the story when these men from the east outwit King Herod.
The star started the Magi on their journey, just like the star which shone at our baptism is the promise of God the Holy Spirit to guide us through our lives.
May the light of the star that guided the magi to baby Jesus light your way on your faith journey and lead you to God's heavenly kingdom.
Question of the Day: How will you follow the "star, the New Light?"
Prayer: "We have seen His star in the East, and have come with gifts to adore the Lord."