[Epiphany of the Lord, Year B / January 4, 2015 / Isa 60:1-6, Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13, Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6, Matt 2:1-12]
EPIPHANY comes from the Greek and means “manifestation.” This feast is the manifestation of God’s glory to all peoples. How did God manifest himself? Well there were no fireworks, brass bands, no fanfare of earthly trumpets, no interviews, media or TV crews. There were no reporters from Hello magazine, no autographs, no awards. Just a little baby lying there with Mary and Joseph. In fact it was so simple, so humble and so sublime that even the great biblical scholars of King Herod missed it. They knew the scriptures that prophesied the birth of the infant King but in the reality did not recognize his coming. And the same goes for me. I can know that Jesus is born but do I really witness the manifestation of God’s glory?
We can learn from the Wise men. How did they arrive at the infant King? What guided them? A star. It led the way. The star shone in the darkness and pointed the way. We too have a star to guide us, many stars. The star of our faith. The star of the Word of God which is a light for our path. The star of the teachings of the Church to guide us when the way is not clear. The star of the Community which accompanies us on the journey. The star of many lives who have gone before us, whose lives point clearly to Christ. Which star are we following on our journey?
We are called to follow the guiding star and not just any bright light. Once, scientists were amazed observing the behavior of newborn turtles. Instead of going to the safety of the ocean after their birth they went to the newly built highway where they were crushed under the wheels of cars. After investigation the scientists realized that instead of following the light of the moon, reflected on the ocean surface, they were being drawn to the dangerous highway by the light of the car headlights.
Sometimes we too are confused. Instead of following the light of faith we go after many bright lights which put our dignity as children of God in danger: the bright lights of success at all costs, the lure of vices such as excess alcohol or drugs. When we do not follow the true light that has come into the world we can be crushed like the little turtles.
The Epiphany is an invite to follow the true light that has come into the world. “Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See darkness covers the earth, but upon you the Lord shines. Nations shall walk by your light” (See Isaiah 60:1-6).
The infant King is the glory and splendor of God. He is the one of whom the prophet spoke “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.” The gifts of the Three Kings bear witness to the manifestation of God’s glory in a little baby. Gold is for a King, incense is for the High Priest and myrrh for the one who is to die to save us (it was commonly used to embalm the body after death to prepare it for burial). The wise men do not offer these gifts to King Herod but to the infant King, Jesus. Let us not give the gifts of our time, our affections, our energy and our talents to the Kings of this world! What a joy to offer what we have to the true King, Jesus.
Many have not yet discovered the love of God. The feast of today is a reminder that God’s light, life and love are for all people. Typically the Three Magi are represented with different colors of skin to show the universality of God’s love. God wants his love to reach to all people. Each one of us can share in this great task and mission. We too are called to be light. Jesus needs you to be an epiphany or a manifestation of his love. Go for it! Don’t let anyone stop you. There are many Herods who will try to get in the way. But keep your eyes fixed on Christ and stay away from Herod. Like the Wise Men. They really were wise because they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod so they went home another way. Jesus is telling us in this Feast “Be an epiphany of my love to all!” We can respond, “Jesus, I want to manifest your love. Help my little life to be a bright and shining epiphany of your love!!!”