Today is Epiphany. The word is derived from Greek and means manifestation or disclosure. Today’s feast means specifically the manifestation of Jesus to the world as the promised Messiah and Savior. At Christmas, Jesus comes into the world; at Epiphany, his coming is announced to all the world. Jesus at his birth manifested himself to the Jews in the persons of the shepherds; now to the Gentiles, in the persons of the Magi. Today’s Gospel focuses on the mysterious journey of the Magi or Wise Men, an event dimly foretold by Isaiah (1st reading), and interpreted by Paul (2nd).
In talking about this great celebration, too much emphasis is placed on the star. Whatever the star was, it meant only that a great mystery was revealed -the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Savior, not just of the Jews, but to the Gentiles, that is, to the whole human race. This feast shows that God’s design was not just a privilege for some, but a hope for all. It tore down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles. So we are dealing with a great and universalist feast.
The wonderful thing about the Wise Men is the boldness and courage of their faith. Look at the trouble they went through in their search for Christ, and see how generously they worshipped when they found him.
We are told that the Magi were led to Christ by the light of a bright star. Often, however, it is not through an experience of light, but of darkness, that people get to know him. This should not really surprise us. The fact is, we cannot see the stars in the bright light of day, but only in the darkness of night, and the darker the night, the brighter they shine. St. Teresa of Avila speaks of God as often concealing himself from us, like a parent playfully hiding from a toddler, to encourage the child to walk. Most of us can easily see God in our successes and good fortunes, but we feel abandoned by him in our sicknesses, failures and rejections. Yet faith counsels us that it is his presence there that makes these sad conditions tolerable. Just as the stars continue to shine even when we cannot see them, so the Lord´s light is always there, though it is sometimes hidden from us by clouds of confusion, distraction, and unbelief.
We are the modern-day Magi, walking with faith, inspiration, reason and intuition, on our long and mysterious journey to the Kingdom. We are the 20th century spiritual stargazers, in search of the Super Star. We carry our gifts of virtue and goodness, like nuggests of gold fit for a king. Also, we bring our pains -the myrrh. We offer, too, the mystic frankincense -ourprayers. They will be presented when we arrive.
We celebrate today the Light of the World, who has made the night a little brighter by his wondrous presence. May all discover the guiding Star which wil lead us home.