Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Isaiah 60: 1 – 6; Ps 72; Ephesians 3: 2 – 3, 5 – 6; Matthew 2: 1 – 12
There are words, beautiful words in their description of the divine realities that are at the heart of this Solemnity of the Epiphany – like star of the Magi – splendor, majesty, light, brightness – words that speak of the power and love of God reaching into our world, more than that – reaching into us.
There is the prophet Isaiah; profoundly he experiences this splendor and so with passion, with excitement he proclaims: “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you” and he repeats this, “…upon you the Lord shines and over you appears His glory…Raise your eyes and look about…” Without knowing the depth of his words, he is alluding to the coming of the Savior.
There is Paul who also experiences deeply this splendor. He has received a revelation, something not made known in earlier ages. It is no less than this: “that the Gentiles” – that’s us – “are coheirs, members of the same body and co-partners in the promise of Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
And there are the Magi – after Jesus and Mary – central to this manifestation of Jesus. The account is full of mystery – they see and follow a star – they come from somewhere in the East – they are led to the place of the new-born King – they prostrate before an infant and their gifts are inspired: gold for the sovereign, incense for divinity and myrrh for humanity – gifts for the Eternal One who has taken on our humanity. Then warned of Herod’s design, they leave and are never heard of again but the word that they are is ageless.
What does all this have to do with us? This Gospel has much to say for our faith journey. There is no way that any of us can give such homage to the Lord unless we are led by the Holy Spirit – like the star – there is no way that we can come belief in Christ our Savior on our own. The life of faith is not our own doing – we are graced first by God and our response follows. Without the star, they would been no Magi; without God’s loving grace, we would not be believers gathered here.
It is the Holy Spirit of the Father and Son that moves us to come here today to pray, to listen and then, to recognize and receive in the consecrated bread and wine, Jesus Christ – held aloft for us for our homage and our reception. God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is manifested to us because God desires us to know Him as Lord, as Savior as our Eternal Life.
As there is mystery in the story of the Magi, so there is mystery in our story of grace; there is the love and action of God which is beyond our understanding but there is the reality of God’s presence to us and He was present to Mary, to Joseph, to the Magi.
It is one thing to hear this and it is another to believe it; it is one thing to hear it and quite another to have it affect our lives. Belief in word and action comes from prayer – from desire put into words and that desire is already God leading us like the Magi.
In the Post Communion Prayer, we pray: “Go before us with heavenly light, O Lord, always and everywhere that we may perceive with clear sight and revere with true affection the mystery in which You have willed us to participate…” – notice the personal love of God: “…in which You have willed us – willed you, willed me to participate.