Solemnity of the Epiphany, Year A – Sunday, 8th January, 2017
The word “epiphany” means, “to show forth.”
Today the Church celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (Magi) from the East,
and also commemorates two other important moments of public revelation of Jesus to the world:
at his baptism in the Jordan and at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.
If we read Matthew’s Gospel story carefully, we realize that far from being a children’s tale, it is a tragic adult story. Matthew shows us that right at the beginning of the story of Jesus, the one who is to rule Israel is greeted with the cheers of some and the fearful fury of others.
The future rejection of Jesus by Israel and his acceptance by the Gentiles are retrojected (read back) into this scene of the narrative.
The Magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the Messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.
Their coming to Jesus means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the Messianic promise as contained in the Scriptures of the Old Testament.
When we read the story of the turmoil the child Jesus brought into the lives of Mary, Joseph, the Magi, Herod, the whole of Jerusalem, and all the newborn babies of Bethlehem – we are forced to ask ourselves whether the adult Christ challenges and moves our lives in the same way.
When we read the story of the shepherds and their vision of angelic choirs, we discover anew how God can break into our life as well. In remembering and reliving the angelic roles in Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the veil that separates us from the world of the spirit is drawn back.
The experience of the Magi reminds us that all who make the tedious journey to the truth will finally encounter it and be changed in the process.
They can never go back to a “business as usual” way of life. When we meet Christ and see who he really is, we will never be the same – and only then can we hope to begin to share in his mission.
In the end, the Magi went their own way, and because they refused to be seduced by cynicism, because they allowed themselves to be surprised by this great joy, the star to which they had committed themselves appeared again. This is not only the description of the times into which Jesus was born,
but also of our times. When we have found our lasting joy in the midst of the encircling gloom, cynicism, despair, indifference and meaninglessness, the only thing to do is to kneel and adore, as did those foreign seekers long ago in Bethlehem.
If we are truly wise, let us do what the wise astrologers did. When we hear the voice of the old king of death and fear and cynicism, let us have the courage to go our own way — rejoicing.
The star and the journey will send us onwards, by newer paths, to come into the presence of the Child of Light and the Prince of Peace, who is the fulfilment of humanity’s deepest hopes and desires for light, justice, love, and peace.
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