From the Pastor's Desk
The Greek word Epiphany ((επιφάνεια), means appearance or manifestation. Multiple revelations of Jesus as God are celebrated in the Feast of the Epiphany. First, the angels revealed Jesus to the shepherds. In the Western Church, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ first appearance to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, while in the Eastern Church, the feast is the commemoration of the Baptism of Christ where the Father and the Holy Spirit gave combined testimony to Jesus’ identity as Son of God. Later, in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus revealed himself as the promised Messiah, and at Cana he revealed his Divinity by transforming water into wine.
Today’s Gospel teaches us how Christ enriches those who bring him their hearts. The adoration of the Kings fulfills the oracle of Isaiah (first reading), prophesying that the nations of the world would travel to the Holy City following a brilliant light and would bring gold and incense to contribute to the worship of God.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 72) includes a verse about kings coming from foreign lands to pay homage to a just king in Israel. Paul’s letter to the Church of Ephesus (today’s second reading), expresses God’s secret plan in clear terms: "the Gentiles are…copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel." Today’s Gospel reminds us that if God permitted the Kings – foreigners and pagans – to recognize and give Jesus proper respect as the King of Jews, we should know that there is nothing in our sinful lives that would keep God from bringing us to Jesus. There were three groups of people who reacted to the Epiphany of Christ’s birth. The first group, headed by King Herod the Great, tried to eliminate him, the second group, priests and scribes, ignored him and the third group, represented by the shepherds and the Kings, came to adore him.
Let us make sure that we belong to the third group:
a) By worshiping Jesus at Mass with the gold of our love, the myrrh of our humility and the frankincense of our adoration;
b)By giving a new direction to our lives , choosing (as the Kings chose another route to return to their homes), a better way of life, abstaining from proud and impure thoughts, evil habits and selfish behavior; c) By becoming stars leading others to Jesus as the star led the Kings to Jesus -- removing the darkness of the evil around us and radiating Jesus’ love through selfless service, unconditional forgiveness and compassionate care.
Like the Kings, let us offer Jesus our gifts on this feast of the Epiphany:
(a)Our gift of friendship with God in the form of wholehearted love and devotion;
(b)Our gift of friendship with others by leading them to Jesus through our exemplary lives of Christian charity in action;
(c)Our gift of reconciliation with God by daily asking His pardon and forgiveness for our sins and giving unconditional forgiveness to our offenders; and
(d) Our gift of peace by seeking God’s peace in our own lives through prayer, leading a Sacramental life and meditation daily on the Word of God.
Let us conclude with a 19th century English carol, Christina Rosetti’s A Christmas Carol, which begins, “In the bleak midwinter.” The carol sums up, in its last stanza, the nature of "giving to the Christ Child.”
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I could give a Lamb.
If I were a wise man, I could do my part.
What I can I give Him? Give Him my heart!”