Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Dear friends, today we join the mother church in celebrating the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord commemorates the visit of the magi to worship the Infant Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek epiphainen, which means “to manifest,” “appear,” or “make known.” The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Jesus, the Son of God to the world. However, before the revelation of Jesus, God has manifested himself to the Israelites in various forms. The solemnity of the Epiphany is therefore the culmination of God self – revelation and manifestation to the entire world through his Son Jesus. As we celebrate this great event today, I would like us to reflect on the theme: “Jesus the summit of God’s revelation”.
Thus in the first reading taken from the book of prophet Isaiah 60:1-6, we hear how God has redeemed his people. The opening verse “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you” describes the situation in which the people of Israel were leaving in and the plan of God toward them. The Almighty God has changed their situation by forgiving their sins. Out of joy, the prophet asked them to rise up for God has given them his glory. The glory which God has given to his nation is a sign of self-manifestation on the one hand for the Israelites themselves and on the other hand for the surrounding nations. It means that God’s revelation involves all nations not only the people of Israel.
It’s in this context that we can understand the gospel of today. Saint Matthew in the gospel reading states that “magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem” meaning that these magi were not Jews on the contrary Gentiles. However, they have seen a sign which gives them an indication that a king was born. Therefore, they decided to look for that king until they found him and they adored him with great joy. While the magi were rejoicing because they have found the king and the true king, Herod and his subjects were in great pain; this will lead Herod later on to kill many male children.
Saint Paul in the second reading talking to the Ephesians reminded them how God’s revelation happened to start from the Old Testament until the New Testament. God has chosen his holy apostles and the prophets as agents of this revelation and through their work of the proclamation of the Good News, the Gentiles also have a share in this revelation.
Reflecting on the theme “Jesus the summit of God’s revelation”, I would like to highlight three ways in which God had revealed himself throughout salvation’s history: (1) God revealed himself by giving glory to his people, (2) God revealed himself through his Son Jesus Christ and (3) God revealed himself through the work of the prophets and the apostles.
- God’s revelation through his people: The people of Israel were the glory of God among many other nations in the Ancient Near East for in Deuteronomy 7:6 we are told “For you [Israel] are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession”. Israel as a nation received this privilege not on the account of his righteousness and holiness but on the contrary on the account of God goodness and provision of saving all humanity at the appropriate time. Therefore, whenever the Sons of Israel involved themselves in grievous sins like idolatry, the Lord God punished them. But this punishment was meant to help them to repent and to come back to their God. Today, we are the nation and the people of God in this world full of sins and iniquities; we are the chosen people, therefore, we must let the glory of God shine into the darkness of sins. In fact, we are that light by the virtue of our baptism. Let us make shine the light we received during baptism wherever we are and in whatever we are doing.
- God’s manifestation through his Son Jesus Christ: In announcing the good news to Mary, the angel Gabriel said: “Do not be afraid, Mary for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…” [Luke 1:30-32]. Through this expression, the angel has received God’s plan for Mary but also for us Christians. Jesus Christ is the Son of God among us for he has revealed to us everything about the Father and the Holy Spirit, he has shown us the way of reaching God the Father. If Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most the High throughout his ministry has made known God the Father, who are we not to do so as his followers? In this sense, Jesus is the summit and the culmination of God’s revelation that is why in John 12:45 Jesus himself says that “And whoever sees me sees him who sent me”. Dear friends as we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are called upon to make known the Savior to the entire world.
- God’s revelation through the work of the apostles and the prophets: Before ascending into heaven, Jesus said to his apostles “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” [Matthew 28:19]. There were the last words of our Lord Jesus before ascending to his Father in heaven. And by these words, he has commended his apostles to involve and to make known God’s revelation and glory to all nations. It means the Gentile nations also must know and leave in the light of the Lord. As Christians, we are called upon to carry out the Good News to the entire world like the disciples.
As we celebrate this solemnity today, let us pray to God to help us in order to follow the footsteps of the magi by proclaiming God’s revelation which he has fulfilled in Jesus Christ, amen.
Fr. Issere Agre