Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord. And tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, the last feast of the Christmas season. A survey was made among school children asking the question why they enjoyed reading Harry Potter novels and watching Harry Potter movies. The most common answer was, “Because you never know what’s going to happen next.” This sense of suspense and surprise prompted us to watch the seven episodes of the Star War movies. The same desire for epiphany with the thrill and suspense awaiting them prompted adults to watch James Bond films and encouraged the great explorers like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus to make risky and adventurous journeys. It is the same curiosity which led the Magi to follow the star of Bethlehem. An element of suspense marked every moment in the journey of the Magi, who never knew what road the Spirit of God was going to take them down next. Today’s readings invite us to have the same curiosity as explorers and movie fans do, so that we may discover the “Epiphany” or manifestation or self-revelation of our God in everyone and every event, everywhere.
The sixth century Italian tradition says that there were three Magi: Casper, Balthazar, and Melchior. This information is based on the fact that three gifts are mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel: gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Magi were not Kings, but a may have been Persian priests who served Kings, using their skills in interpreting dreams and watching movements of stars or Babylonian astronomers or Nabataean spice-traders. Eventually however, they were pictured as representatives of different peoples and races. Gold, frankincense and myrrh may be thought of as prophesying Jesus’ future; gold representing his kingship, as well as divinity; frankincense a symbol of his priestly role; and myrrh prefiguring of his death and embalming, representing his human nature.
The Epiphany can be looked on as a symbol for our pilgrimage through life to Christ. The feast invites us to see ourselves as images of the Magi, a people on a journey to Christ. Today’s Gospel also tells us the story of the Magi’s encounter with the evil King Herod. This encounter symbolizes three reactions to Jesus’ birth: hatred, indifference, and adoration: a) a group of people headed by Herod planned to destroy Jesus; b) another group, composed of priests and scribes, ignored Jesus; c) 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 (c), the third group. 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. Let us offer God our very selves, promising Him that we will use His blessings to do well for our fellow men. Let us plot a better course for our lives as the Magi did, choosing for ourselves a better way of life in the New Year by abstaining from proud and impure thoughts, evil habits and selfish behavior and sharing our love with others in acts of charity. Let us become stars, leading others to Jesus, as the star led the Magi to Him. We can remove or lessen the darkness of the evil around us by being, if not like stars, at least like candles, radiating Jesus’ love by selfless service, unconditional forgiveness and compassionate care.
God Bless You,