Reflections for the Feast of the Epiphany

 

Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6; Mt. 2:1-12 

The term Epiphany is of Greek origin, epiphaninen.  It is a verb which means “to reveal,” or “to manifest.”The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation.”  The Church celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the magi (see Simeon’s prophecy in Luke 2:32). For some, Epiphany also commemorates the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:21-22) and His turning water into wine (John 2:1-11) manifestations of Christ’s divinity to the world. For some scholars, it celebrates the many ways through which Jesus has revealed himself to us and our world. These include the three events that bring to light his mission and divinity: the visitation of the three kings or Magi (Mtt 2, 10-12), the baptism of Jesus (Mk 1, 9-11), and the miracle at Cana (John 2, 1-11).Today, the Church celebrates the feast of the Epiphany; that the newborn Saviour was revealed to the whole world through the wise men.
The Gospel of today from Matthew is about the visitation of the three wise kings. They came to adore and offer gifts to the new born king, Jesus Christ. This gospel is full of many lessons for us to learn.
Did you discover that no Jew was able to dictate the birth of the new born king and God did not in any way involve them in this revelation which would have been the main thing God would have done, since the new born king is born in a Jewish background. The chief priests and scribes, who know the scriptures, did nothing to seek out the Messiah, whom they have determined to be only five miles (eight km.) away in Bethlehem (v. 5). Sometimes God’s people ignore the Messiah, while pagans eagerly seek him out. Sometimes those who go to church do not truly seek God. God works with those who seek him in spirit and truth.
Secondly, God in his wisdom revealed himself first to men from non Jewish background, the magi. It signals that God loves Gentiles as well as Jews and that God’s plan of salvation includes the Gentiles too. The word magi is found in Acts 8:9-24 and 13:6-11, where it is translated magician or sorcerer. From the perspective of the Jewish people, magi work magic using demonic powers. They are far from the kingdom of God, which makes these magi especially useful for Matthew’s purposes as he shows how the Messiah brings salvation even to Gentiles who might be magicians or sorcerers. Epiphany challenges us to reconsider all the people whom we see as outside the boundaries of God’s love. It challenges us to abandon our tribalism (racially, nationally, denominationally, etc.) and to expand our tents to welcome even those whom we would prefer not to love.
Thirdly, these magi come to Jerusalem, because the capital city is the logical place to look for a king, before they found him Bethlehem. Sometimes what we look for in life are wrapped in those things we have less regard for. Sometimes the person you disregard today may be the breadwinner of the family tomorrow. Jerusalem is a big city and capital city but not the birthplace of the messiah. Sometimes where you think nothing good can come is where the good is.
Fourthly, the three kings came to offer Christ a genuine worship as the King of kings. Therefore, our worship must be sincere and from our hearts like that of the three wise Kings. It must not be like the proposed false worship of King Herod. The gifts seem odd for a baby. We expect baby clothes and toys. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, however, speak to Jesus’ future.
Gold, 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.
Second, we must be ready to offer Jesus something precious. We must not appear before the Lord empty handed. So, we must ask ourselves today, what do I offer the Lord for his goodness to me? The only gift we must offer God for his goodness to us is ourselves. It is the gift of good life, the gift of love, the gift of obedience, the gift of humility, the gift of peace to our families and the gift of sacrifice for one another. Also, we must learn to be generous to others as the three wise kings were to Jesus.
Fifth, we must learn to continue to follow the star and light that Christ shows us. That is, we must not allow ourselves to be deceived or distracted on our journey by the Herods of this world. Trusting that God will not mislead us, we must continue to look out for his star and light along the part of our journey to eternity.Any time we are confused or come to the cross road of life, we must wait until the star of Christ appears to show us the way we must proceed. This is simply what is referred to as divine guidance in our lives.