The Epiphany of the Lord
1st Reading: Isaiah 60: 1-6
Responsorial Psalm: 72
2nd Reading: Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2: 1-12
In many countries, Epiphany is the day for exchanging gifts because this is the day the Magi brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Magi also received even greater gifts than they gave. They received the fulfillment of their dreams, the goal of their long search.
For most of us, the story of the Magi’s journey to visit the infant Jesus is a familiar one. But we really don’t know much about who they were. The term wise men is too generic. It is incorrect to call them kings. They were astrologers, but not like our modern-day version on the Psychic Friends Network. The term “Magi” described a particular caste of people that were high ranking, political and religious advisors to the rulers of the Median and Persian empires (the region we now know as Iran and Iraq). In the first reading from Isaiah, we also hear about the region of Sheba which has been identified by contemporary archeologists as a portion of southwest Arabia (now the country of Yemen). This region had a large shipping port (to receive goods from Arabia and India) as well as a major caravan route (easy access and transportation of gold, frankincense and myrrh).
The Magi are representatives of the Gentiles (non-Jews), the nations beyond Israel. In Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus, we hear about the Jewish shepherds who came to see the newborn child. In this account from Matthew, foreigners come from distant lands. The Magi represent all the nations of the world and Epiphany reminds us that the gospel was meant for the salvation of all people.
The Epiphany celebrates God’s ongoing manifestation to His people. It’s been said that if you really want to get to know someone, you should travel with them (and if you’ve traveled with friends and/or family, you’ll understand this statement). There is no better way to become acquainted that to journey together. God is on this life journey with us. He is constantly inviting us to participate (with Him) in all we say and do. As Fr. Gregory Boyle states in his book Barking At The Choir, God is constantly saying “Come dance with Me.” This story of the Magi is a story of journey (with God) into a deeper understating and relationship and into full communion with God. It is the discovery of who God is. Just like our weekly trip to church to attend Mass each Sunday, we travel to listen to the words of the prophets, apostles and evangelists. We learn about who God is and eventually find him in the Eucharist.
When has a “star” appeared to guide me in the darkness?
Who are some of those making the journey with me?
How do we help one another keep going?
What gifts do I bring to Jesus?
What does God want from me?
What do you give the God who has everything?
There is no handout for this week as the Catechumenate Session would have been on break for the Christmas holiday.