Epiphany of the Lord (Fr. Vinner)
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate that God’s glory has been revealed to all the nations, and not just the chosen people of Israel. People from every corner of the earth, of every nation and race. Generations of people. God’s revelation, God’s invitation is for all people of all times and places The Greek word Epiphany (επιφάνεια), means appearance or manifestation. First, the angels revealed Jesus to the shepherds. In the Western Church, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ first appearance to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, while in the Eastern Church, the feast is the commemoration of the baptism of Christ where the Father and the Holy Spirit gave combined testimony to Jesus’ identity as Son of God. Later, in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus revealed himself as the promised Messiah, and at Cana Jesus revealed his Divinity by transforming water into wine. These multiple revelations are all suggested by the Feast of the Epiphany.
The three wise men (kings, or Magi) are known as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Their gifts were gold, and frankincense, and myrrh may be thought of as prophesying Jesus’ future. Gold was a gift for Kings; frankincense (an ancient air purifier and perfume), was offered to God in Temple worship (Ex. 30:37); and myrrh (an oriental remedy for intestinal worms in infants), was used by the High Priest as an anointing oil (Ex. 30:23), and to prepare bodies for burial. These gifts were not only expensive but portable. Perhaps Joseph sold the gifts to finance the Holy Family’s trip to Egypt. The gifts might have been God’s way of providing for the journey that lay ahead.
Today’s Gospel teaches us how Christ enriches those who bring him their hearts and offer their lives to Him. The adoration of the Magi fulfills the oracle of Isaiah (first reading), prophesying that the nations of the world would travel to the Holy City following a brilliant light, bringing gold and incense to contribute to the worship of God. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 72) includes a verse about kings coming from foreign lands to pay homage to a just king in Israel. Paul’s letter to the Church of Ephesus (today’s second reading), expresses God’s secret plan in clear terms: “the Gentiles are…copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” Today’s Gospel reminds us that if God permitted the Magi – foreigners and pagans – to recognize and give Jesus proper respect as the King of Jews, we should know that there is nothing in our sinful lives that would keep God from bringing us to Jesus. There were three groups of people who reacted to the Epiphany of Christ’s birth. The first group, headed by King Herod, tried to eliminate him, the second group, priests and scribes, ignored him, and the third group, represented by the shepherds and the Magi, came to adore him.
Let us make sure that we belong to the third group: a) by actively worshiping Jesus at Mass with the gold of our love, the myrrh of our humility and the frankincense of our adoration; b) by giving a new direction to our lives. Just as the Magi chose another route to return to their homes, let us choose a better way of life, abstaining from proud, unjust and impure thoughts, evil habits and selfish behavior; c) by becoming stars leading others to Jesus, as the star led the Magi to Jesus. Let us remove the darkness of the evil around us by radiating Jesus’ love through selfless service, unconditional forgiveness and compassionate care.
Like the Magi, let us offer Jesus our gifts on this feast of Epiphany and every day: (a) Gift of our life by offering it on the altar during the Holy Mass and by offering it to God every morning as soon as we get up, and asking for the strengthening anointing of the Holy Spirit to do good and avoid evil during the course if the day. b) Gift of relationship with God by talking to Him in personal and family prayers and listening to Him through reading the Holy Bible every day. c) Gift of friendship with God by experiencing His presence in everyone we come into contract with and offering Jesus our humble service by serving him or her, and by getting reconciled to God every night asking His pardon and forgiveness for our sins and failures during the day.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN