From Epiphany to Ordinary Time
The Christmas Season ends and the Season in Ordinary Time begins.
Below is the homily of Fr. Fransiskus Bhoka SVD of the Divine Word Institute of Mission Studies (DWIMS) during the Eucharistic celebration at the Maryridge, Good Shepherd Tagaytay City on January 8, Soleminity of the Epiphany.
EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD
Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a.5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
Today, we celebrate the feast of Epiphany of the Lord. The Greek word Epiphany means appearance or manifestation. There are four manifestations of God through Jesus Christ. The first manifestation is the birth of Jesus (the incarnation) which we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus was born as homeless, poor and surrounded by the outcasts people represented by the shepherds.
The second epiphany, is the appearance to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi. The newly-born king, Jesus Christ is visited by the magi came from east. The magi stand for the strangers, foreigners, total outsiders who are coming to adore the new-born King and to give royal homage to the child. This visitation by the magi, gives us a clear picture and understanding that the new-born King is not exclusively for the Jews people, but he is the King of all nations.
The third manifestation is the Baptist of the Lord. When Jesus was about 30 years of age, he was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. In this event, he was solemnly endorsed by the voice from heaven, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17).
The fourth ‘revelation’ or manifestation is found in John’s gospel. This revelation occurs during a wedding banquet at Cana. Jesus revealed himself as the promised Messiah, and his divinity by transforming water into wine (John 2:1-11).
What is the meaning of epiphany for us?
Today, our Gospel reading presents to us the story about the magi who came from the east, looking for the new-born King. They were guided by a star. This passage of Gospel teaches us on how Christ enriches those who with humble hearts come to him and offer him homage. When the magi found Jesus, the new-born King and his mother Mary, they falling prostrate and adore him (Mt 2:11). The coming and the adoration of the Magi fulfills the prophesy of Isaiah (first reading), saying, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arm of their nurses” (Is 60:1, 3-4). The Magi came from afar to the Holy City, guided by a brilliant light of the star, bringing along with them the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Mt 2:11).
St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (our second reading) makes it more clear that the coming of the Messiah is for people of all nations. St. Paul reminds the Church of Ephesus that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:6). Here we learn that Godallows himself to be manifested, appeared and to be known by the nations presented by Magi – foreigners and pagans. God is a God of all, reveals himself and opens his arm to all people of all nation to come and worship him.
In our Gospel passage, we also learn that there are three kinds of people who reacted to the new-born King.First:People who want to eliminate the New-born King – Jesus Christ. This kind of people is headed by King Herod and his companions who tried to kill baby Jesus.The second group is a kind of people who ignore the new-born King even though they have the knowledge about him. This group is headed by the Priests and scribes. And the thirdgroup is people who with their humble hearts, open their ears to listen to the joyful news, and open their eyes to see the star which guide them to the New-born King. This group represented by the shepherds and the Magi who came to adore him. The question for us: “In which group do we belong to?”
Let us evaluate and reflect ourselves. The good Christians are people who belong to the third group. They are people who come to Jesus and worship him, listening to his words and following his footsteps. They are people who worshiping Jesus at Mass with the gold our love, the myrrh of humility and the frankincense of adoration. The good Christians are people who like the Magi chose another route on the way back to their homes; those who choose a better way of life.They chose a way of life which is abstaining from proud and impure thoughts; from evil habits and selfish behavior which eliminate them from God and Christ himself. As Christianwe should become like the star that guided the magi to meet the Lord. We should become the exemplars or model for other through our good words and deeds, leading others to Christ.As Christian, we should be able to defense ourselves from the temptation of the evil one;radiating ourselves with Jesus’ love, selfless service, unconditional forgiveness and compassionate care.
Like the Magi, let us offer Jesus our own gifts. Our gift of friendship with God in the form of love and devotion. Our gift of friendship with others and respecting them. Our gift of reconciliation with God by asking pardon and forgiveness for our sins and giving unconditional forgiveness as we always pray, “Lord,forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sins against us”. Our gift of peace by seeking God’s peace in our own lives through prayer, liturgical celebration, and our daily reflection on the Word of God as the light in our path of life. Above all, a good Christian always seeking for guidance from Holy Spirit to enlighten the mind and soul. May God bless us all. Amen.
Fr. Fransiskus Bhoka, SVD