Epiphany

Readings: 1 Reading – Isaiah 60, 1-6; 2 Reading – Ephesians 2, 2-3a. 5-6; Gospel – Mathew 2, 1-12

Epiphany

Readings: 1 Reading – Isaiah 60, 1-6; 2 Reading – Ephesians 2, 2-3a. 5-6; Gospel – Mathew 2, 1-12
José Antonio Ciordia Pastoral | 2021 Jan 06

Christmas is primarily a time of the Child, and it cannot end until the Magi come and that Child receives his gifts. Christmas is not over until Epiphany dawns.

Today’s solemnity is knowm as the Epiphany of the Lord. The very name of the feast means manifestation, or disclosure.  The Bible does not use the word at all, probably to avoid any association with pagan religions. For the Greeks, the word epiphany  was used to describe the appearance or manifestation of a god among human beings. The Church used it for the Incarnation of the Son of God. Epiphany is an older feast than Christmas, and liturgically more significant. The focus of this feast is the revelation of Jesus to the Gentiles, represented by the astrologers from the East, who are sometimes called Magi or, simply, the Wise Men.

Today, the festival of Christmas becomes complete. Today the Church celebrates the light promised from of old, brilliantly shining on all nations, all people. Epiphany is a feast of universal enlightenment and revelation. Today’s feast marks the revelation of Jesus to the world beyond Judea. It represents the universality of Jesus’ reign, powerfully expressed in the 2nd  reading. In Christ Jesus the Gentiles are now co-heirs with the Jews, members of the same body and sharers in the promise. This was God’s plan from all eternity. Today is a feast of the Catholic  (=universal) Church. That is why it is a feast of such great and wondrous light.

The Magi should be viewed as astrologers who attentively observed all phenomena in the skies. We don’t have sufficent information to know for sure what those astrologers saw. Whatever it was, it certainly struck them and was meaningful to them, though it could pass unobserved by others. They were a caste of wise men, variously associated with interpretation of dreams, astrology, and magic. In later Christian tradition they became kings; their gift of gold came to signify the kingship of Jesus, incense his divinity, and myrrh his redemptive suffering -or virtue, prayer, and suffering. Their number settled at three,  deduced from the three gifts. Eventually they were named: Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior in the Western Church, and Caspar became a black. They were understood as representatives of the Gentile world in all its racial diversity who come to Jesus. They represented a non-Jewish or Gentile people and so prefigured the acceptance of Jesus by all the world. The Magi represented all of us!  The message they left us is this: Open your eyes, peek under the blanket of ordinariness, and discover the King of Kings!

Today’s Gospel focuses on the mysterious journy of the Magi, an event dimly foretold by Isaiah (1st reading), and interpreted by St. Paul (2nd reading). The prophet sees Jerusalem as the center of God’s mercy, the chosen city of redemption; but  the resulting salvation is not the exclusive right of the citizens of the city. For your sons come from afar... The 2nd reading mentions the revelation of the secret plan of God, according to which Jews and Gentiles are co-heirs in Christ; they are members of the same body;  they are one.

The story of the Wise Men is part of St. Matthew’s way of teaching the early Christians the universality of God’s salvation plan; the equality of man before his Creator. God does not despise poor Jewish shepherds, nor the rich men from the East.  How many and what other people came to see the Infant, we do not know. But we can be sure that they were all graciously received. It is an interesting tradition that we retain the shepherds in the Christmas crib, even after the time of their visit is passed, while we introduce the Magi into the scene. There is something in this that admits our equality before God!

The Magi came to pay Him homage.  What is the homage that you and I give Jesus in our own personal lives? Do we recognize him as our God and King?  May the Epiphany of the Lord serve to feed our minds and hearts with all that will make us better followers of Jesus, better men and women who really know how to pay homage to our God.

Christmas is primarily a time of the Child, and it cannot end until the Magi come and that Child receives his gifts. Christmas is not over until Epiphany dawns.

Today’s solemnity is knowm as the Epiphany of the Lord. The very name of the feast means manifestation, or disclosure.  The Bible does not use the word at all, probably to avoid any association with pagan religions. For the Greeks, the word epiphany  was used to describe the appearance or manifestation of a god among human beings. The Church used it for the Incarnation of the Son of God. Epiphany is an older feast than Christmas, and liturgically more significant. The focus of this feast is the revelation of Jesus to the Gentiles, represented by the astrologers from the East, who are sometimes called Magi or, simply, the Wise Men.

Today, the festival of Christmas becomes complete. Today the Church celebrates the light promised from of old, brilliantly shining on all nations, all people. Epiphany is a feast of universal enlightenment and revelation. Today’s feast marks the revelation of Jesus to the world beyond Judea. It represents the universality of Jesus’ reign, powerfully expressed in the 2nd  reading. In Christ Jesus the Gentiles are now co-heirs with the Jews, members of the same body and sharers in the promise. This was God’s plan from all eternity. Today is a feast of the Catholic  (=universal) Church. That is why it is a feast of such great and wondrous light.

The Magi should be viewed as astrologers who attentively observed all phenomena in the skies. We don’t have sufficent information to know for sure what those astrologers saw. Whatever it was, it certainly struck them and was meaningful to them, though it could pass unobserved by others. They were a caste of wise men, variously associated with interpretation of dreams, astrology, and magic. In later Christian tradition they became kings; their gift of gold came to signify the kingship of Jesus, incense his divinity, and myrrh his redemptive suffering -or virtue, prayer, and suffering. Their number settled at three,  deduced from the three gifts. Eventually they were named: Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior in the Western Church, and Caspar became a black. They were understood as representatives of the Gentile world in all its racial diversity who come to Jesus. They represented a non-Jewish or Gentile people and so prefigured the acceptance of Jesus by all the world. The Magi represented all of us!  The message they left us is this: Open your eyes, peek under the blanket of ordinariness, and discover the King of Kings!

Today’s Gospel focuses on the mysterious journy of the Magi, an event dimly foretold by Isaiah (1st reading), and interpreted by St. Paul (2nd reading). The prophet sees Jerusalem as the center of God’s mercy, the chosen city of redemption; but  the resulting salvation is not the exclusive right of the citizens of the city. For your sons come from afar... The 2nd reading mentions the revelation of the secret plan of God, according to which Jews and Gentiles are co-heirs in Christ; they are members of the same body;  they are one.

The story of the Wise Men is part of St. Matthew’s way of teaching the early Christians the universality of God’s salvation plan; the equality of man before his Creator. God does not despise poor Jewish shepherds, nor the rich men from the East.  How many and what other people came to see the Infant, we do not know. But we can be sure that they were all graciously received. It is an interesting tradition that we retain the shepherds in the Christmas crib, even after the time of their visit is passed, while we introduce the Magi into the scene. There is something in this that admits our equality before God!

The Magi came to pay Him homage.  What is the homage that you and I give Jesus in our own personal lives? Do we recognize him as our God and King?  May the Epiphany of the Lord serve to feed our minds and hearts with all that will make us better followers of Jesus, better men and women who really know how to pay homage to our God.

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