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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Epiphany...The Magi...God's Salvation for All...

“The first was called Melchior. He was an old man, with white hair and a long beard; he offered gold to the Lord as to his King. The second, Gaspar by name, young, beardless, of ruddy hue, offered to Jesus his gift of incense, the homage due to Divinity. The third, of black complexion, with heavy beard, was middle-aged and called Balthasar. The myrrh he held in his hand prefigured the death of the son of Man.”

- St. Bede the Venerable

Today many Christians the world over celebrate the feast of Epiphany, including Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists.

Epiphany essentially means "to show" or "to make known" or even "to reveal." It remembers the coming of the Magi or Wise Men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child; who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King

"We have come to do him homage" (Matthew 2:2)

These Wise Men make only one single appearance in Holy Scriptures in St. Matthew's Gospel.  The wealthy, learned, alien Magi of St. Matthew's Gospel complement the poor, ignorant, local shepherds of St Luke's Gospel, as we recalled at the Christmas celebration. This foreshadows the universality of the Church, these Gentiles and Jews worship God Incarnate to show that salvation is offered to all men.

God fulfills his promises and sends his son, a little child, born by a Jewish woman, part of the Jewish people, descendent of the great king David. God’s love for Israel is great, but not restricted to them. Shepherds and foreigners come and worship Jesus first.

Today, the Epiphany, the climax of the Advent/Christmas season, commemorates the day when the Magi, followed the Star, travelled from the far East to pay homage to the newly born infant Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem.

The Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to honor the newborn baby, whom they considered as the King of Kings.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the first Church Father to equate the Wise Men's gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh with Christ's roles as King, God, and Sacrifice.

O God
Who by a star
guided the wise men to the worship of your Son
we pray you to lead to yourself
the wise and great of every land
that unto you every knee may bow,
and every thought be brought into captivity
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Epiphany lifts our eyes from purely the family celebrations during Christmas and demands that we should include in our vision, sharing our light with "all the ends of the earth."  God’s plan of salvation is revealed to all, without any discrimination. God’s love is directed at all of humanity.

Today, we are invited, once again, to lay down our intellect, in the midst of such a mystery. Like the magi, we are called to give ourselves, our joys, our brokenness, our sufferings, our loneliness… as gifts to the Lord and give up all our fears. Let us therefore open our hearts and make this transformative journey like the magi… it is through the Magi that we set out towards the starlight of hope, of joy and of peace to come.

As we reflect on the Wise Men who saw the Star and responded to the call, let us ask ourselves how have we radiated to the rest of creation the light that Jesus has embedded in our souls since the day we were conceived in our mother's womb? How has our life been moments of epiphany to others?

The one bright star was shining in the sky, yet many others did not show up to pay homage to “the true Light of the world” in Bethlehem…ponder on that...

 “The more a man is at peace within himself and interiorly simple, the more and deeper things does he understand without labor; for he receives the light of understanding from on high.”

 - The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis

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