The Epiphany

We’re into the New Year and automatically we wonder about the future. We can’t avoid it. We’re wondering what this year is going to bring. What’s coming?

Living in a secular age as we do, we see things mainly with eyes for the here and now, which often boils down to politics and economics. What’s the country going to be like under President Trump? What’s the economy going to be like? Unfortunately when we look at things only like that, we can end up being small minded. We can think that what we see and hear and touch now is all there is. We lose a larger vision of life.

We need the spark, the light, of revelation.

Can we see that light in the mystery of the Epiphany we celebrate today? It begins with a star, guiding some travelers on their way. Can this mystery lift up our secular minds and point out something more? Is our world being guided by a Star?

To start, let’s not see the story of the Magi as a cute story of some people riding on camels coming to see Jesus. More than that, it’s a revelation of God’ divine plan which carries news for us and our world, and it’s as important now as it was then.

The Magi story is only found in the Gospel of Matthew, who was writing for Jewish Christians in Galilee and the Syria about the end of the first century. The temple of Jerusalem was recently destroyed and Jewish Christians like other Jews were facing an unknown, disturbing future. When Jesus came to them, he began his mission saying to the Canaanite woman, who pleaded for a cure for her daughter, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 15;24)  “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Jesus first told the twelve whom he sent out to preach. (Mt 10, 5) It looked as though the promises of God were for the Jews and them alone.

But that made the promises of God too small.

Matthew’s story of the Magi was a reminder that the gospel was meant for others besides. Jesus came for all, though his ministry was first to the Jews. God wants the world to be one family and he wishes his gifts and graces be given to many peoples and places. God doesn’t save a few.

The Magi may have come from present day Iran or Yemen; two places we hardly view positively today. We tend to see ourselves a privileged people and our own country a promised land. God is on our side. Better to leave the rest of the world to its wars, its earthquakes, its immigrants, its divisions, its problems. As the old song once said, let’s find “perfect peace, where joys never cease, and let the rest of the world go by.”

We can’t let the rest of the world go by. The story of the Magi reminds us we live in a big world that God means to be one. The story of the Magi is not a sweet story about people on camels who looked and dressed and spoke differently than us. They’re symbols of the world beyond ours that’s called by God to share in his promises.

And the newcomers come with gifts.

4 thoughts on “The Epiphany

  1. Clare Ann Fitzgerald

    Thanks, Father Victor, for much needed words of unity at a time of transition.

    Clare Ann

  2. Berta

    Yes, “the newcomers come with gifts”. We are forgetting in these times that many immigrants have come with “gifts” to the U S. They’ve come with a plan for a better future thus bringing the best of themselves. The Wise Men went to Jesus also bringing the best of themselves. They brought love, praise, admiration, awe, humility, and all types of treasures for the newly born babe. A babe that promised new life. A babe that grew up and gave us New Life! Let’s pick up where the Wise Men left off. Let’s continue to bring the love that Jesus brought and the Wise Men gave that day. Let’s see all people with their eyes and welcome them into this vast , beautiful land. A land that is made up of immigrants. A land of faith, Hope and most importantly LOVE!!!!

  3. Rosemarie Byrnes

    One of the best articles I have read on the Epiphany. Thank you for sharing and may God bless us all!

  4. cenaclemary12

    On a light-er note: I enjoy looking skyward for pleasure not as the Magi did out of necessity for direction. Riding camels for long distances I do not relate to. Gift-giving does give me a way to show my love for the receiver. Oh one more thing we have in common: there really were four Magi who came to the stable. But he was not allowed in because he brought a fruitcake.
    (Ha-Ha) After the Wise Men left three Wiser women arrived with gifts of diapers, casseroles, and lots of formula. They also cleaned the stable.(LOL)
    BTW the Magi were the first men ever to ask for directions!

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