SUNDAY, SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
Is 60: 1-6; Ps 72:1-2,7-13; Eph 3: 2-3, 5-6; Mt 2: 1-12
LESSONS FROM THE MAGI
Today we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord. The word Epiphany comes from the Greek epipháneia, meaning manifestation, revelation or appearance. It celebrates the revelation that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. It commemorates principally this revelation to the gentiles (represented by the Magi), and also at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan and at the wedding feast at Cana. Over time, the Western Church separated the remaining feasts into their own celebrations, leaving the celebration of the Epiphany to commemorate primarily the Visitation of the Magi to the newborn Christ.
From the journey of the Magi we can learn many valuable lessons that aid our spiritual growth. The Magi were not Jews, yet God manifests Himself to the gentiles first. This shows us that God’s love is inclusive. Nobody is outside God’s plan of salvation. Jesus came to mend all divisions between people (ref. Eph 2:11-21). Whenever we discriminate between people we are going against God’s will. God wants us to love and accept all people as our brothers and sisters irrespective of our differences.
When the Magi came to know of the birth of Jesus, they left their homelands and went out in search of Him. The spiritual journey begins with a search or with a desire to encounter God personally. But first, before we undertake this quest, we need to let go of all that hinders us from starting off on the spiritual journey. Often our inordinate attachments to persons or things, our bad habits, our bitterness, unforgiveness etc, prevent us from approaching God. It is inconsequential whether these attachments are small or big. As Saint John of the Cross tells us, a bird will be unable to fly whether it is tied by a thin string or a thick cord.
The Catechism teaches us that the purpose of our life is to seek God, to know Him and to love Him with all our strength. More often than not, the aspect of ‘seeking’ God is brushed when we answer the question as to why God created us. Unless we seek God with all our hearts, we will not find Him (ref. Jer 29:13). And if we don’t find Him, we will not be able to know Him and thus we fail to love Him. Overcoming all odds, the Magi persevered in their search and were rewarded for their persistence. When the going gets tough in the spiritual life, in moments of dryness and darkness and when our faith is put to the test, the tough get going. The Magi teach us not to give up. If we are faithful, God will not delay in rewarding us for our determination and perseverance.
It is believed, that the Magi were wise men of great learning. Although they were knowledgeable, they acknowledged their limitations and were docile to instruction. They followed the guidance of a star, the counsel of Herod and the directions given to them in a dream. In the spiritual life, one cannot grow unless one submits oneself to a spiritual guide. Openness to guidance and willingness to change play an important role in the process of discernment. It is easy to go astray and get deceived if one does not humble oneself to the counsel of one who is learned and holy. The Magi brought precious gifts for the Infant. During Christmas, we too received many gifts. But what gift have we given the Lord? What gift can we possibly give Him? Jesus wants the gift of your very self. Your heart is the most precious gift that you can give to the one who has given Himself and still gives Himself entirely to you. The Gospel tells us that the Magi prostrated themselves and paid Him homage. Just as their gifts are external symbols of the identity and mission of Jesus, their act of adoration is an interior symbol of the gift of their very self to the Lord.
As today marks the close of Christmas tide, we will be putting aside the star, the crib and the Christmas tree. As life resumes its normalcy, let us take care lest the spirit of Christmas manifested by the wise men be forgotten. Every day can be Christmas if only we strive to seek God, to know Him and to love Him with all our strength.
Response: All nations of the earth shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.
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