Epiphany (Fr. Francis)
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany. “The Lord and ruler is coming; kingship is his, and government and power.” With these words the Church proclaims that today’s feast brings to a perfect fulfillment all the purposes of Advent. Epiphany, therefore, marks the liturgical zenith of the Advent-Christmas season.
Today it seems good to spend a moment thinking about the trip of the Kings. We don’t know exactly where they came from, or how much time they spent on their walk. We only know that they arrived in Jerusalem after following the light of a star. And coming to Herod, they asked him where they could find the new king of the Jews. And with this question, Herod’s fear and jealousy set in motion the sad story that followed.
According to the story, the kings did not know where they had to go. Maybe they were waiting for a king in Herod’s palace himself. Or maybe in a house of an important family in Jerusalem. What scares us is that they could accept that this child, born of a humble family, was the one who was announced in the history of Israel. They needed an open heart to believe that the trip took them to a simple house, without ads to their own people. And surely they were scared to understand and that King Herod was so afraid and hateful.
I think it is worth thinking about our journey through life. With the sacrament of Baptism, we begin our journey seeking the Messiah, the Savior, trying to meet this Jesus who has come to live among us. But the way of life is not easy. Many times, we lose our way, we are wrong or we get diverted by bad warnings and simply the fatigue of life. Many of us lose the light of the star and walk in the dark, content ourselves with pleasures that do not satisfy us.
The good news is that the star light is still strong, always lighting the way. And God always gives us the grace to recognize the light again. In spite of everything we do, God is faithful. He does not forget his children, however deviant they may be. God gives us the strength to start over in our search for happiness.
Today we can ask for the grace to find again the good path that leads us to Jesus. The Kings have found Jesus far from the majesty of their king. The Kings have recognized Jesus in the arms of a peasant mother. The Kings have offered homage to Jesus when almost no one else has seen the presence of God.
They have been able to act that way because they walked in the starlight.
We believe that God will also give us the faith to recognize Jesus in unexpected places and in unknown people. We do not have to seek their presence in the homes of the rich and important, but in the humble circumstances of our neighbors and colleagues. The light of the star is still strong. May God give us the eyes to see.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see, the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are representative of the truth about the Messiah Whom the Magi paid homage to at Bethlehem, the King Whose coming was promised, Who is also Divine, Word of God, the Son of the Father Who assumed our human existence and flesh, all so that He could fulfil the completion of God’s plan to save us, by His suffering, Passion and death on the Cross.
There’s a true story about a young man worked in a leather factory. His fellow workers were not Catholics and when on Friday he brought egg, fish and sandwiches to lunch. They called him a fish-eater and taunted him by displaying their meat sandwiches. Of courses, it was all good-natured joking, but there was one man whose bitter remarks were serious.
Years later, the leather worker met the old acquaintance leaving a Catholic church and dressed as a catholic priest. The two recognized each other and began to talk over old times.
Finally the priest said: “It was your good example that aroused my interest in Catholicism. I thought if a man can take the taunts of a crowd and still remain proud of his faith, there must be something wonderful about that faith. That led me to inquire about the church. Today, I celebrate my first Mass.”
That’s the challenge for us all. Epiphany means that we have to manifest Christ to people, to evangelize by our own good example and live the Christian values even to a hostile environment.
Fr. A. Francis HGN