Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12.
“Epiphany” means manifestation. The “Epiphany of the Lord” is the manifestation of the Child Jesus to the world. God reveals Himself to the wise men from the east.
But this Epiphany of the Lord is not only to these Magi from the East. It is a symbolic representation, because they are non jews. That God reveals Himself to non-Jews is a symbolic representation that Jesus comes for sake of all.
Therefore, the Epiphany of the Lord today is a symbolic and real manifestation of the Lord to the whole world.
These Magi, travelling from a foreign and non-Jewish nation, reveal that Jesus is for all people. Then, if Jesus comes for all, the implication is that all is called to adore Him.
The Personality of the Magi
Magi, whose singular is Magus, means Wise Men. Matthew in today’s gospel says that they are “from the East”. Matthew does not tell us the exact place the wise men are coming from and also their exact number.
Therefore, there was an assumption that they are Persian or Arabian astrologers who are experts in studying signs through the stars. These astrologers do attach religious significance to the heavenly bodies.
Also, we do not know if they are exactly three or more. We presume that they are three wise men because they presented three gifts each to the Lord.
In ancient times, many people also believe that the appearance of significant stars does announce the birth of great men. Some Roman historians like Suetonius and Tacitus even speak of an expectation that a certain world ruler would come from Judea.
So, it seems there is already an expectation of the birth of the newborn king. So, when the astrologers/wise men saw the star, they immediately interpret that something significant is happening, or something significant has happened.
Secondly, there is an assumption that these visitors are not just ordinary, or poor peasants. The gifts they offered to Jesus are most of the costliest gifts at that time. Gold is very expensive, the same with frankincense and myrrh.
Remember that during the burial of Jesus, Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, which is about seventy-five pounds for the body of Jesus (John 19:39). This shows how costly it is.
So, these luxurious gifts indicate that these men are people of great wealth and power.
Therefore, if the assumption is true, these wise men then teach us to have the inner hunger to encounter Jesus always despite our positions.
When they met the child today, the first thing they did was to prostrate immediately and pay Jesus great homage. They worshipped Him. In essence, despite our positions in life, we must humble ourselves before God.
Therefore, the presence of God is not where we show how powerful, popular or wise we are.
We owe God great respect always. God deserves our respect. That we are in a particular position does not mean we are now greater than God. No earthly position lasts forever and none of it is greater than God. We have to worship God in humility and truth just as the magi did.
The Star shows the Way
In today’s epiphany of the Lord, God uses what the wise men are familiar with to reveal Christ to them and to adore Him.
God uses a star to lead them to Christ. They understood the stars and when they saw this new and unique star over Bethlehem, they realized that something special was happening.
1. The first lesson we take from this is that God can use what is familiar to us to call us to Himself. Look for the “star” that God is using to call you. It is closer than we may think. He continually manifests himself in things we see.
The magi were able to read meaning into this manifestation and then proceeded to find out who is truly this great king that was born. This is a call to sometimes read meaning into many things that are happening around us, they may be ways God is bringing us to Him.
God uses a lot of things so known to us to bring us closer to Him. We have to read meanings into many things that do happen to us. Some of them do not happen by chance.
2. The wise men discovered that something great is happening and they have to respond positively to that. They must have gone through a long journey to pay homage to Jesus.
Therefore, the magi can be seen as champions of faith, who never doubted God’s revelation or inspiration. They followed His direction through the star.
So, today, the magi stand as our models of inspiration when we hear the word of God or are led by his inspiration. We owe God our sincere, positive and immediate response.
Therefore, the magi exhibited the qualities of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who immediately responded to the message of the angel.
Therefore, they teach us to respond immediately to divine inspiration, and God’s word without doubting.
What God always needs from us is a positive response to Him. This is a great lesson to learn today from the epiphany of the Lord.
3. Through the guidance of the star, God reveals His only begotten Son to all nations. Therefore, God uses what the world is conversant with to lead them to the most important person in all the history of the world, Jesus Christ.
Therefore, God wants everyone to know about Jesus. The wise men were led by this star to Bethlehem. Remember that these wise men are not Jews, but God involves them first.
God uses what they are conversant with that is the star to lead them to Jesus. Therefore, God is using them to reveal to the world, the true light of the world, the saviour of the world. Therefore, God is involving others to tell the world where their salvation is. This is a way God announces to the world the source of her salvation.
The Jerusalem Journey.
To find the newborn king, the wise men came to Jerusalem”. They came to Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the capital city and the capital city is the logical place to look for a king. But the star led them to an unknown and belittled city, in the least of all the tribes, the city of Bethlehem.
Remember the story of King David. David served as a shepherd, which is a lowly occupation. When Samuel asked Jesse, David’s father, to bring his sons so that Samuel might determine which one God had chosen to be king, Jesse did not even think to include David, his youngest.
It was only when Samuel had disqualified the other sons that Jesse sent for David. Still later, David became Israel’s greatest king.
This indicates that sometimes God’s thinking is not human. The way we think that something is going to happen may not be how it will happen. Also, the people we think are not good enough for something may be the people who can do the job very well.
Also where we think we may not succeed because we think there is nothing there may be the place God has reserved for us to succeed.
Let us not conclude on the future of anyone yet and let us not conclude on what may happen in the future. Also, let us not underrate anyone. Only God knows better.
It also indicates that Humble beginnings sometimes have a great end! Now it is this humble town that gives Israel its Messiah. It means that God can locate you wherever you are and may use the things or the people we see as little or nothing to bless us after.
Our thoughts are not the same as God. God can locate you anywhere you are. Sometimes where we think our blessings are or where we think we can make it, where we think our help will come from may not be necessarily true.
Sometimes that thing, that work, and place we underrate may be where God is preparing to bless us. God has a way of doing His own thing. What may be little or underrated in our eyes may not be the same for God.
The Herod’s Way.
This event happened in the days of Herod the Great. Herod the Great was a truly great king. He built the Temple but was genuinely paranoid, murdering rivals, real or imagined. “He murdered his wife, Mariamne, and massacred the Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18).
After hearing from the wise men about the newborn king, Herod asked them to report back that He may also go and worship him, hiding his true intention, but despite that, God knows everything even the hidden things in our hearts.
This type of life, I call the Herod’s way which is glaring in our own time. There are so many Herods around us who pretend to be good but evil at heart. They will laugh with you but truly they are not, they will pretend to help but truly they are not.
Despite all these, God is still God. He knows everything we have been harbouring in our hearts. Let us always depend on God who knows the deepest thoughts of men. It is only God that can expose such Herods as He exposed the intentions of the Herod in the time of Jesus.
Eager to Worship.
When the wise men saw the star, they travelled from the east not just to see, nor to snap pictures but to pay Him Homage and as well bear witness to the identity of the New Born child.
Remember that some scholars see them as kings. But their intention was not to identify with the child as their fellow king.
Their intention was made known when they met Herod and told him of their intention to go and worship the newborn king. This is a sign of humility.
How many of us who are wealthy and rich can possess such humility to go before God these days just to worship?
How many times has God done things beyond our marvels yet we do not have time for Him? These wise men travelled from a far distance just to worship a child.
Many of us see ourselves as even superior to God Himself. How many of us have our churches even just a stone throw to their residence but are unwilling to join in giving glory to God who gives them life every day. Can we imitate these wise men?
The wise men made effort to seek and find the newborn king, what effort do we make to find Jesus again in our lives. If we seek Him, we will find Him.
How eager are we to worship Him? The Magi fell prostrate before the Child. They laid their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration. They set a perfect example for us.
If these astrologers from a foreign land could come and adore Christ in such a profound way, we must do the same. Let us adore Him with a complete surrender of our life.
Lastly, the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” The gifts seem odd for a baby. We expect baby clothes and toys.
As we are celebrating the epiphany of the Lord, every event that happens today is pointing to the identity of Jesus. Therefore the gifts; Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, however, is revealing the identity of Jesus and his future.
Gold is a gift fit for a king. Frankincense is used in temple worship (Exodus 30:34), a gift fit for a priest.
The high priest uses myrrh as an anointing oil (Exodus 30:23). It is also used to prepare bodies for burial, and Nicodemus will bring a mixture of aloe and myrrh to prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:39-40).
Thus, their adoration is grounded in the truths of who this Child is.
Therefore, in today’s epiphany of the Lord, God reveals Jesus as the King of Kings and the Eternal Priest.
He is a King and thereby supreme over all things and all conditions. Jesus is also a priest, a mediator between us and God. He is one anointed by God, a fulfilment of the words spoken by the prophets, who is to save us through His death and suffering.
1. There are so many other lessons to be derived from these manifestations, but the pointer remains that God used the star as an ordinary event to point the magi to Jesus.
God also uses many ordinary events to point us continually to Jesus. The wise men responded to this revelation and made effort to find the messiah, a lesson for all to make concrete efforts to respond to God and make ourselves available to Jesus and with whatever we have, and whoever we are.
2. God used the gentiles to tell the world about His Son, and not the Jews, not even those living around Jerusalem and indication that God does not look at your background, He can use anyone. Our response makes the difference.
3. Epiphany of the Lord is the manifestation or revelation of Jesus as the King/ saviour of the world. His birth is not only for the Jews but for all nations. Therefore the epiphany of the Lord reminds us that God loves us.
In this love, He communicates with us in many ways through His word, inspirations, external events, through some people, different encounters, through His word etc. It is now left for us to decipher God’s message and respond to it with faith, perseverance, availability and openness to the message. We have to show sincere desire like the magi did today.
4. When the Magi saw the child with His Mother Mary, they opened their treasures and offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These wise men gave from their treasures.
Therefore, we should ask ourselves what treasures can we lay at the feet of Jesus, what can we offer Jesus? What gift can we give to Jesus? God has given us His beloved son, what can we give back to Him in response to His generosity?
Therefore, since we are celebrating the epiphany of the Lord; God’s revelation of Jesus to the world, the gift we can give to God, is to make ourselves His instruments for this.
We have to be heralds of the gospel, become living witnesses of the Lord and proclaim the gospel message to the world.
We have to bring peace where there is no peace, encourage the suffering and save the lost. When people encounter us, they have to encounter Jesus.
We have to give Jesus our treasures, give Him our entire being and be willing to work for Him. Therefore, the epiphany of the Lord continues through us to the world.
5. Finally, just as the star led people to Jesus, we have to be that special star that brings people to repentance. We have to be a star in changing lives and not in destroying them.
Therefore, we have to be that special star that leads people to God and brings a change in their lives. We have to lead people to God always, we have to be the light in their lives.
In our family, we have to be that special star that creates a positive difference in our families. Let us also be that special star that creates something positive in the lives of people. Let us not be the star that lead people away from God.
Therefore, let us remain steadfast in the faith, and be willing to touch lives.
6. The Magi through this epiphany, show us what it means to be a christian. The magi are very generous. In essence, they teach us what it means to be charitable. They teach us what it means to offer ourselves to God.
They offered Jesus the most expensive gift. Therefore, these men teach us that God is worthy to be given our best. God deserves the best. Their action today shows that they are truly dedicated.
They travelled many distance to meet Jesus, they risked their lives in the hands of Herod by not obeying his order. They were obedient to the voice of God who warned them in the dream not to go back to Herod, and they are also highly charitable. These summarize everything about the Christian life. Let us learn these values from these men.
May God bless you beloved as we continually meditate on this mystery of our redemption. Amen. Happy Sunday.