Fr Vincent's reflections on Epiphany Sunday
The Opening Prayer of our Mass today starts: “O God, who on this day revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star . . . .” We who already know about Jesus might think there is nothing more to be revealed to us. Yet even we might experience some of the lack of vision and be weak in faith like the world around us. So Jesus does reveal himself for us if we are willing to seek him and give him our homage.
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on Epiphany Sunday
Read the text:
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Feast of Epiphany, 2021, let us pray:
O God, who on this day
revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations
by the guidance of a star,
grant in your mercy,
that we, who know you already by faith,
may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Hopefully you have your Bible with you to follow along. If not, please pause the video to retrieve your Bible.
The Gospel today is Matthew 2:1-12.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Magi, astrologers, wise men, kings – call them what you will. Balthazar, Melchior, Gaspar – name them as you wish. Three, four, five, or more – the Bible gives no number, so legends and stories speculate the count. A star, a comet, a supernova – real or supernatural – whatever!
Sacred Tradition, which developed into St. Matthew’s account of this visit by “magi from the east,” is telling us that Jesus was born for all humanity, not only the Jews, God’s “Chosen People.”
The magi are persons who see beyond the common vision of most people, thus “wise men.” Anyone else might miss the signs, but not those who are truly seeking the presence of God in our world.
Being from the east, meant they were foreigners. Again, God’s gift of His Son is truly for every person without exclusion.
The star represents a “light” that gives direction and guidance. It does not need to be a physical reality, and probably wasn’t given that so many did not see it! Those who do see it, will follow it.
They came to do homage, that is, to humble themselves and give this “newborn king” honor and service. Note that Matthew has Herod use the same word as the magi – homage – but in a cynical way to show Herod’s selfishness contrasted with the true faith of the magi. Matthew does this actually to emphasize the need to be humble and open to faith for anyone truly seeking Jesus. So Matthew offers a stronger image of homage by then saying the magi prostrated themselves; they laid down on the ground at the feet of Jesus.
The gifts, likewise, are symbolic: gold for a king; frankincense for God; myrrh for a man. They represent the person of Jesus: God made man to rule humanity. All together, these are not objects so much as signs of faith that these magi have brought to their God and King.
Epiphany means “a moment of revelation or sudden insight.” It is the revelation of Jesus the Christ to the world. But it is also the insight of those who discover the truth about who Jesus is. Once more, the Church does not celebrate an historical moment fixed in history, never to be repeated. We celebrate the moment in my life, in your life, when we have that “epiphany” of faith, coming to understand who Jesus is for me, for you!
You see, any one of us can become a “wise” person when we see beyond this world’s limitations to realize the presence of God around us and even within us and others! It is not that God hides Himself but that so many simple fail to seek and find. Even we who have found God can lose that “sight,” so we must pledge ourselves always to look beyond.
Also, there is no such thing as being “foreign” to God, or not belonging. True enough, human beings create borders and restrictions, but these do not exist for God as long as we seek Him and His truth. We can make ourselves outsiders by making the wrong choices – Herod proved himself more of a stranger to God than these persons “from the east.” So, coming to God is all that is necessary to belong to God.
We all need THE STAR in our lives to guide us to Christ. There are so many false “lights” which misguide us. We run hither, thither, and yond, and can fail to see the star of Jesus and thus get off the path to him. So re-evaluating the “light” of our lives to be sure we are focused on the correct one is necessary to find our way back to Jesus if we have strayed, or even to keep us closely to the truth path as we turn even slightly right or left.
Then, we need likewise to evaluate the depth of our faith. Is our homage fully humble and ready to serve the Lord? Or, can it be self-serving? How much of my own life am I willing to lay down so as to give myself more completely to Jesus? Jesus does not make our life less than it could be by giving it to him. He actually can make our life the best it can be, but we must be ready to “prostrate in homage” and open ourselves to Jesus as Lord and King of my life!
And the gift we bring, almost like the legend of the “little drummer boy,” does not need to be gold, frankincense, or myrrh, but what is most precious to us and what we know is ours only by the grace of God. Giving myself to Jesus is the gift he most wants, and that truly will prove our faith is real and complete. Then my epiphany, your epiphany, will be everything this Feast Day is meant to be and celebrate!
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.