Tuesday, January 26 2021
The feast of the Epiphany: God’s beautiful revelation to all human beings.
Every year the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. This is a memorable celebration that reminds us of those endearing Magi who came from the East to venerate baby Jesus. The Epiphany, as the Greek word indicates, is the feast of the manifestation of the child God to the world; it is a manifestation full of tenderness and sensitivity. The Epiphany also reminds many of us of those days back in our childhood when we expected the Wise Men to bring some gift for us on that special night.
Today’s Gospel tells us that those Wise Men decided to follow a star that would lead them to the presence of the world’s savior, a child named Jesus. This Gospel account shows us the impact that the mystery of Christmas has on us; it affects our imagination, our sensibilities, and our whole person. The birth of the Son of God is so important that the liturgical tradition of the church celebrates it on two occasions: Christmas and Epiphany. It is the same event: Christ is born and manifests Himself to all humanity.
The perspective of each Feast is diverse. Christmas mainly evokes the birth of Jesus as the Messiah announced to Israel and made known to the humblest of the people. The Epiphany focuses on the universal projection of Jesus presented as the Savior and Light for all nations.
For this reason, a star was born and is born this Christmas, and it will be reborn the following Christmases. That Star is what we call Jesus. We should ask ourselves the following questions today:
Have we found that star as we go on our daily way?
Have we found the star that fills our lives with joy when we are with our neighbors, with family, at work, and at church?
Have we found the star that invites us to leave our routine and discover new opportunities in this new year?
At the center of the Epiphany is the revelation of Jesus as the Savior of the World; to recognize him, we must start the path towards Him as the Light of the world. The child of God is presented by Mary, with the presence of Joseph, who is indispensable despite not uttering any words. God makes Himself present in the world through those who show Him through attitude, rather than with words.
The feast of the Epiphany of the Lord encourages us to recognize the Lord. It is not enough for God to reveal Himself to us; we must know how to see Him where He manifests himself: in a child, in poverty, in weakness, in innocence, in the son of a woman, and in the son of the carpenter. And that encounter with God requires a profound change from us. If we are believers, we cannot continue to hide our faith. If we believe in the incarnation of the Son of God, we do not have to go looking for God where He surely is not. And God is not in our prejudices, in our interests, on our side, or on the side of the powerful, but on the side of the weak, of the poor, of those who seek peace, respect, reconciliation, and a fraternal world for all.
To find God, like the Magi did, we have to allow ourselves to be led by the star, to go out of ourselves – of all that is ours, to go out to meet others, all others. If we decided to love our neighbor as ourselves, it would not be so difficult for us to believe in God. But, as long as we keep our eyes and our hearts turned towards ourselves, we cannot see our neighbor, nor can we discover God in a child in the arms of his mother.
In this Gospel of the Epiphany of the Lord, the liturgy focuses on the revelation of God to those who do not belong to the Jewish people, to those who are not among the people of the Covenant. In the letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul reminds us that “the Gentiles are joint heirs…of the Promise,” and in the Gospel it is the Magi from the East who came and “worshiped the child.” All this speaks to us of the universality of salvation: Jesus, the Messiah, has come for all peoples.
This is God’s lesson for all of us today: He has no exclusivity; He is not owned by anyone. The Jewish people believed that salvation was only for them, and today many Christians face the same temptation. God comes into our world for everyone and all peoples. We are the ones who set borders and create differences. We are the ones who distinguish between us and others, between natives and foreigners. But for God, we are all welcome to His kingdom.
Making us aware that God has chosen everyone is what can help us consider how to respond to Him with our faith and with our way of life.
The Magi allow themselves to be questioned by the star. They leave their comfortable corner of the world and set out. They search, they ask, and they are not discouraged. Finally, they are able to complete their journey and recognize the significance of what they found.
They saw the Child with Mary, His Mother. Falling on their knees, they adored Him. Faith must be seen as a wonderful adventure, as a call to get out of our corner, as an invitation to seek and accept the bits of truth that others are giving us, and as a reminder not to be discouraged when the star hides and when God is silent. Faith is opening one’s eyes from within and seeing things differently, with a different depth: God’s way. Faith is a learning to decipher His Word, which comes to us in another key–to discover His face in the other, His mark in life, His love in suffering.
The Christian feast of the Epiphany is the announcement of God’s salvation for all peoples and, at the same time, an invitation to open borders to live the faith in a more universal way. The Church must contribute effectively to promoting a world without selfish and unsupportive borders.
Today we celebrate the Epiphany. Jesus, by receiving the pagan Magi according to tradition, reconciles them with God, breaks the barrier of enmity, inaugurates the era of peace, and creates a new human being. Today God manifests Himself as He is: the God of peace and love, a diaphanous manifestation of a Kingdom without borders.
How do we recognize others as members of the one Body of Christ and discover in them the fruits of the Holy Spirit?
How do we achieve a friendly dialogue even with those who develop their life plans outside of Christianity?
We no longer doubt that the Epiphany is more than a feast and that it requires a hard commitment. We no longer doubt that we know how to carry out our commitment as Christians, as members of a single Body that encompasses all human beings without any distinction.
May the Light of Christ enlighten us all and accompany us in this new year.
The Epiphany is the feast of joy – the joy that Mary, Joseph, and the wise men felt; That is why it is good to remember that the joy of faith can overcome any moment of sadness and darkness.
And let’s remember the words of Jesus: I am the Light of the world; whoever believes in me will never walk in darkness.