Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
As a parish priest, talking about the story of the three wise men, a woman asked him, this question, “Do you know why God gave the star to the wise men?” When he professed his ignorance, she told him: “God knows men are too proud to ask for directions. If there had been three wise women instead of three wise men, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and given some practical gifts!”
The Greek word Epiphany (επιφάνεια), means appearance or manifestation. First, the angels revealed Jesus to the shepherds. In the Western Church, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ first appearance to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, while in the Eastern Church, the feast is the commemoration of the Baptism of Christ where the Father and the Holy Spirit gave combined testimony to Jesus’ identity as Son of God. Today’s Gospel teaches us how Christ enriches those who bring him their hearts. The adoration of the Magi fulfills the oracle of Isaiah (first reading), prophesying that the nations of the world would travel to the Holy City following a brilliant light, bringing gold and incense to contribute to the worship of God. The Gospel reminds us that if God permitted the Magi – foreigners and pagans – to recognize and give Jesus proper respect as the King of Jews, we should know that there is nothing in our sinful lives that would keep God from bringing us to Jesus. There were three groups of people who reacted to the Epiphany of Christ’s birth. The first group, headed by King Herod, tried to eliminate him, the second group, priests and scribes, ignored him, and the third group, represented by the shepherds and the Magi, came to adore him.
The Epiphany can be looked on as a symbol for our pilgrimage through life to Christ. The feast invites us to see ourselves in the Magi – a people on a journey to Christ. Today’s Gospel also tells us the story of the encounter of the Magi with the evil King Herod. This encounter demonstrates three reactions to Jesus’ birth: hatred, indifference, and adoration: a) Hatred: A group of people headed by Herod planned to destroy Jesus. b) Indifference: Another group, composed of priests and scribes, ignored Jesus. c) Adoration: The members of a third group — shepherds and the magi — adored Jesus and offered themselves to Him.
Let us make sure that we belong to the third group. a) Let us worship Jesus at Mass, every day if we can, with the gold of our love, the myrrh of our humility and the frankincense of our adoration. b) Let us plot a better path for our lives just as the Magi chose another route to return to their homes, let us choose a better way of life, abstaining from proud and impure thoughts, evil habits and selfish behavior. c) Let us become the Star, leading others to Jesus, as the star led the Magi to Him. Like the Magi, let us offer Jesus our gifts on this feast of the Epiphany: (a) our gift of friendship with God in the form of wholehearted love and devotion; (b) our gift of friendship with others by leading them to Jesus by our exemplary lives of Christian charity in action; (c) our gift of reconciliation with God by daily asking His pardon and forgiveness for our sins and giving unconditional forgiveness to those who offend us; (d) our gift of peace by seeking God’s peace in our own lives through prayer, the Sacramental life and daily meditation on the Word of God.
God Bless You,