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January 2: The Epiphany of the Lord Year A
Readings: Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3,5-6; Matt 2:1-12
This Sunday we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. The word ‘epiphany’ comes from the Greek language “epiphaneia’ which means ‘appearance’, ‘showing forth’ or ‘manifestation’. So we could say that we celebrate the manifestation of the Lord. The feast of the Epiphany originated in the third century to commemorate the first appearance of Christ (the infant King) to the entire world as Savior. The first reading from Isaiah speaks about light shining through the darkness and the clouds—a wonderful image of describing what epiphany is trying to tell us about Jesus Christ. Our own darkness and the clouds of our lack of understanding so often make it difficult for us to recognize the presence of God, in daily life, in the Lord Jesus, in the Church or in other people. Psalm 72 focuses on the nations coming to adore the Lord. “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you” and then speaks of kings from foreign lands bringing gifts to the Lord. The Psalm in a certain sense introduces the Gospel of today, that recounts the story of the three wise kings from the East (also called the Magi), who represent all the nations. These Magi come as seekers of the source of the light. The star is only a guide for them. On finding the source, the infant king, they are overjoyed, they confess, worship him and offer him gifts. In the preface of the Epiphany, we get a sense of the mystery we celebrate. "Today you revealed in Christ your eternal plan of salvation and showed him as the light of all peoples". The mystery of Christ's birth, the mystery of the Incarnation, is therefore made known to all people all over the world without exception. St. Paul in the second reading speaks about the inclusive nature of salvation in God’s plan.
The central message of the Epiphany is that Jesus is revealed to us as a light to the nations. The Magi go in search of this light guided by a star until they find the source of the light in Bethlehem. With them we too seek and recognise the child who is born to be our Savior. Like them, we too pay homage to Jesus Christ and accept the light that He brings into our hearts. Since we are led to discover Christ, we are therefore called to go out and share with others the Good News revealed to us. Through our daily witness, in loving others, in forgiving them, in our faith and compassion, in our courage and perseverance, may we be like the star that guides them in their journey of faith, to seek and to discover Christ in their lives. There is a story of certain woman who had a problem with the Church. For a long time she stayed away from the Church. Her problem had nothing to do with church authority, but about certain doctrines. Her children too had strayed away from the Catholic Church and had joined some other church, and she felt bad about this. She had a problem in understanding the resurrection. One day she met a friend, who was a Catholic and as they began to discuss about their faith, she said that she did not believe in going to Church. Her friend was surprised. As they kept on talking, her friend began to realize that the woman perhaps needed to talk to a priest, and she guided her to go to talk to a priest, even though she was not comfortable about the idea. However, something mysterious moved her, and she found herself at the parish door asking to meet a priest. The way she was received by the priest with total acceptance; the way the priest took his time to listen attentively to her story and her faith concerns; the answers she received; all that moved her to tears, as she felt respected and affirmed. She began to see some light in the darkness of her journey of faith. As she rose to walk away, she said, “today I have discovered a star that will lead me to the true light.” That is mystery of the Epiphany of the Lord we celebrate today. It celebrates our discovery of a star that leads us to the source of the light, Jesus Christ. The message we take home therefore is three-fold. 1) We are invited today to recognize God's light, God's presence in our lives, and to let our hearts rejoice, throb and overflow, because we know that God is with us. 2) Like the friend of the woman in the story, you and I today are challenged to lead a life of witness that becomes like the star that leads others to source of light, Jesus Christ; Like the Magi, let us follow that star until we find Jesus Christ. 3) Consequently, we are called to go out and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others; to share the light that Christ has given us, so that others may find the way to Jesus Christ.
©2011 John S. Mbinda