Sunday Readings in Brief: Epiphany
Is 60:1-6; Ps (71)72; Eph 3:2-3.5-6; Mt 2:1-12
God revealed to all
Dear Friends, Today is the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany means manifestation. God chose to manifest himself to us through his Son our Lord Jesus Christ so that he would bring us back to him, restoring the original image and likeness we lost through sin. The first manifestation of Jesus was to the poor shepherds of the house of Israel. The second manifestation is to the wise men from the East who represent people from other nations. The third manifestation will be at the Jordan by John the Baptist where John reveals the identity of Jesus and God himself introduces him as his beloved son (Lk 3:21-22; Jn 1:29-31).
In the first reading, Jerusalem is called to rise up because the days of suffering and destruction are going to be over. A new king will be coming who will restore its lost glory. All those who were scattered by war and captivity will gather and there will be a new dawn. It was indeed great news to the people of Jerusalem and great news to us today. There are too many people living in what we could refer to as modern slavery. There are so many held captives by their employers, their governments, their spouses, and even their own families hold some captive. Worse still many more have become slaves of their religious leaders who are supposed to liberate them.
The psalmist is exalting the King of Justice and peace who is to come to rule over us. Everyone will be delighted in him and kings from all over will bring him gifts. Everyone will be attracted by his way of ruling, which will be different from other world leaders. We all crave better things, better life, free of suffering. Our hunger for a better life is to be found in this newborn king. He is restoring true freedom in the world.
The birth of Jesus is the greatest gift that God has given to the world. Through Christ, God has revealed his face to us and we can dare to approach him. He has come to unite all the nations so that there will be no ‘us’ and ‘them’ anymore. All will be one. The three wise men represent all the peoples in the world who have come to adore the new king. He is the star that will illuminate the whole world. The gift of Gold represents his kingship, Frankincense represents his divinity and Myrrh represents his death for the deliverance of all.
The first principle of Christianity is unity in Christ. In the Catholic Church, we have what we call ‘Vicarius Christi” or Vicar of Christ, the Pope. The Pope is the symbol of unity of the Catholic community. He is the human representative of Christ who is the end of the Church. When a priest is ordained in the Catholic Church, he becomes also “in persona Christi”. He personifies Christ who acts in him to bless his people. Jesus gave his disciples the role of acting on his behalf in order to continue the mystery of salvation. Christ who is no longer physically present with us is active in his ordained ministers.
In the Gospel, we hear that King Herod urged the Wise men from the East to go and find out more about the child and bring him information. According to Herod, he too wanted to go and worship the king. However, we are told that his real intention was to kill the child king because he considered him a threat to his position.
When others rejoiced at the birth of the new king, Herod saw a threat to his rule. He invested a lot of time and energy trying to inquire about the child who even the stars rise at his birth. Herod represents us when we act with jealousy and hatred towards other people who are different from us.
Today we have many Herod seeking information about others to destroy them. Sometimes they come to us disguised as good people and innocently we feed them with information about our family members, our bosses our children, and our friends. Later they use this information to destroy them. Sometimes they use our closest friends to get information to destroy us. People have committed many crimes because of jealousy. However, God continues to guide us through his Church not to fall into the present-day Herod’s trap and betray good people. How many people have I betrayed today’s Herods or I am Herod who seeks information about others to destroy their reputation?
Dear friends, I invite us like wise men, to listen to God’s warning signs so that we may not betray others and ourselves. We must be alert all the time because not everyone who seeks to know thing mean well. There are people who seek information about others in order to destroy them like Herod.
Have a blessed feast.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD