Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13.
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
A Celebration of the Universe
Today, we celebrate the feast of Epiphany of the Lord. The word “Epiphany” means manifestation — something revealed and made known. The magi were totally immersed in this epiphany. These men read the constellations, interpreted the prophets, and discerned what the rising of the star meant. They set out on a journey of discovery which led them to a destination where the dream of God had become a reality for the world. In this great event the world of science and the world of faith collide, giving birth to the dawn of our salvation. It is hard to imagine how these magi felt when the Lord was made manifest before them. The experience was so powerful that they had no hesitation in offering their treasures to a child born in the midst of poverty whose birth was heralded by a star. The magi paid homage and prostrated themselves before the infant child and his parents, knowing that the ground of an animal stable had become the holy ground of God’s presence.
Scholars are at odds as to who the magi were. There are some that argue that they were people of nobility, perhaps kings. Others offer the suggestion that since they were observing the stars in the cosmos that they were astronomers. There are still others who suggest that they were philosophers (wise men). As to the number of the magi, no one knows how many there were. All we know is that three gifts were offered to the Holy Family. Do all of these details matter? Not really. What matters is that in the coming of Jesus, the whole of creation rejoiced. Even a star shone brightly in the cosmos leading people from a strange land to come and pay homage to our savior.
Even today, this feast reminds us that we should constantly discern Jesus’ presence in our lives and in the world. The magi found Jesus in an unlikely place. If we are truly open to God’s Spirit, then we will ultimately find Christ amid the struggles, tragedies, joys, and celebrations of our own lives. The manifestation of God is constantly evolving and calling us to recognize His presence in the people of every nation, language, and way of life. Once we experience the Lord’s presence, we are invited to share our treasures. The event of the Epiphany also reminds us that we live in a material and spiritual world — the world of science and the world of faith. One does not contradict the other. Rather, both reveal the splendor of God and the immensity of his power. We are asked to discern God’s will in the midst of conventional wisdom and technology and never forget His purpose.
Help us to read the signs that lead us to you and understand your purpose. Today, we remember how the magi set out on a journey to find a new ruler. Once they found him, they offered their treasures freely. As we go through this New Year, may we will always allow you, O Lord, to rule our lives. May our journey lead us closer to you and to one another. When we encounter you in the needs of others, enable us to freely hand over the treasures that you have gifted to us. Amen.
How has God manifested himself in my life?
What experiences of life have led me to God?
What three gifts can I offer to Jesus Christ?
Where do I see myself going in life?
What is my purpose?
What is my ultimate goal?
How will I achieve this goal and purpose?
How can the world of science and the world of faith entwine with my witness to faith in Jesus?
How is God manifesting his presence in the world today?
Voices of Faith
Gazing upon the heavens
The magi are the seekers
They patiently watch the night skies
Waiting to see the light of promise
That prophets hoped and longed for
Then all of creation celebrates
The manifestation of God’s love
The constellations witness the birth
Of a great shining star that leads
To the Light of Life
Caravans set out on a journey
The seekers pursue this star of wonder
Heading out to a far and distant land
Their destination is filled with promise
But first they must follow the light
The star leads them to a journey’s end
In which they find a new beginning
Wrapped up in swaddling clothes
They find a new born king
Illuminated by heaven’s light
The seekers offer their gold
For the majesty of God born here below
Frankincense is gifted for fitting worship
Myrrh, the costly perfumed ointment,
Is place before the Christ-child as a reminder of his journey’s end
Homage the magi pay
To this infant king
Light of the world sends them forth
In the world of dream does God thus speak
Sending them home to share this tale of promise
— “Peaceful Moments” by Fr. John J. Ludden
image: The visit of the Magi as portrayed in a stained-glass window at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto. (Catholic News Service/Nancy Wiechec)