On this January 5 Sunday, which still belongs to the Christmas Season, the Church leads us to think about the Epiphany of our Lord, which falls on January 6, tomorrow, but is celebrated today in the Mass readings.
This feast is all about the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, the God-made-Man manifesting Himself to an international public. This public is represented by the persons of The Three Wise Men or The Magi, who are sometimes also referred to as The Three Kings.
They adore the Child Jesus. Men of thought and scholarship, of wisdom and love of God in their own ways in their separate countries, their prayers and meditations made them aware that this babe, to whom they were led by a star, is someone unique, important, and maybe no less than the long-awaited savior of mankind from the evil times that have befallen it.
Today’s first reading, from Isaiah 60:1-6 says “Jerusalem’s light has come, the Glory of Yahweh rises upon you…Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
The responsorial psalm celebrates the hope that “Justice shall flourish” now because the one who will rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him, has arrived.”
The second reading by St. Paul tells us of how God “by a revelation” gave him “the knowledge of His mysterious design,” and he has shared it with the Ephesians (and us) because God’s mercy encompasses all people. “This mystery was not made known to past generations but only now, through revelations given to holy apostles and prophets. Now the non-Jewish people share the Inheritance; in Christ Jesus the non-Jews are incorporated and are to enjoy the Promise.”
That is what happened in the Epiphany. Today’s Holy Gospel (Matthew 2:1-12) tells us:
“When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, during the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem. They asked, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw the rising of his star in the east and have come to honor him.’ When Herod heard this he was greatly disturbed and with him all Jerusalem. He immediately called a meeting of all high-ranking priests and those who taught the people of God his Law, and asked them where the Messiah was to be born.
‘In the town of Bethlehem in Judea,’ they told him, ‘for this is what the prophet wrote: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least among the clans of Judah, for from you will come a leader, the one who is to shepherd my people Israel.’
“Then Herod secretly called the wise men and asked them the precise time the star appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem with the instruction, ‘Go and get precise information about the child. As soon as you have found him, report to me, so that I too may go and honor him.’
“After the meeting with the king, they set out. The star that they had seen in the East went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. The wise men were overjoyed on seeing the star again. They went into the house and when they saw the child with Mary his mother, they knelt and worshiped him. They opened their bags and offered him their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.
“In a dream they were warned not to go back to Herod, so they returned to their home country by another way.”
Herod’s jealousy of the Messiah made him plan to assassinate the Christ Child.
His plan was carried out and gave us the first martyrs—innocent children slaughtered by Herod’s soldiers.
One cannot help thinking of those millions of innocent babies, martyrs too, slaughtered in abortion clinics all over the world, or poisoned to death with contraceptive pills that kill babies when still in the form of fertilized ova (and cause cancers in their mothers), embryos and fetuses.
We have to honor and admire the Three Kings or Magi for their faith in the inspiration that God whispered to them. Just like all of us, God used these men’s professions—their being astronomers and scholarly kings—to inspire them to sacrifice their prestige and to take the risk of traveling a very long distance from their different countries.
God, who made us and our universe, asks all of us to love and serve Him and for love of Him to serve our own kin, neighbors, officemates—and every fellow human being we can touch. Most of the time it is through the ordinary circumstances of our lives—our normal relationships, our work and even our leisure activities—that we meet the people we must serve with love and caring.
The Three Magi did that. They knew the knowledge they would obtain from seeing the Baby Messiah would give hope and encouragement to their people to keep the faith and not succumb to the lure of vices. They took the risk of becoming the laughing stock—if their quest led to nothing. Herod’s soldier goons could also have killed them.
Unfortunately on this feast day of great light, I must warn you about a news hoax about our Holy Father Francis.
My nephew, Roy Bas, has lived and worked in Hong Kong with his lovely family for decades.
[His father Rey and I also worked and lived in HK for decades.] Roy has just done a great service to Catholics through Facebook.
Roy is a leading HK corporation’s IT security watchdog. He correctly warned through FB that we should not fall for a hoax piece of news being reported by some Internet sites and blogs. The hoax reports that Pope Francis had said in a speech that “all religions are true” because they are true in the hearts of their adherents. The same hoax even says Pope Francis gave the speech at the “Third Vatican Council.” Huh? Sadly, a lot of FB users have been sharing the hoax with their friends.
Please go to the National Catholic Register website. One of its most popular sidebars is titled “Don’t fall for this Pope Francis hoax: 5 things to know and share” by Jimmy Akin. Go to the National Catholic Register website [NCRegister.com / www.ncregister.com] and be enlightened.