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Bulletin: January 8, 2022

The Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany is a day when popular customs mostly overshadow scriptural accuracy. Matthew’s Gospel never refers to kings coming to see Christ, nor to their number (only the gifts are enumerated), nor to their names. Matthew tells us only that some “magi” came with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Magos referred to members of the Persian priestly class; later it had the connotation of magicians and astrologers. Matthew’s magi report that they have seen a star rising; its light was visible to them far beyond the boundaries of Israel, an early and significant symbol for Jesus, the Light of the World. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 28), the followers of Jesus worship him, an act foretold in the actions of the Magi today. The eleven are told to make disciples of “all nations,” nations symbolized by the Magi. Today we hear our own mission: to worship Jesus Christ, and to spread his Good News everywhere, every day.


In our day-to-day lives, we can experience epiphanies: new perceptions, unexpected insights, sudden changes in direction. In the liturgical year, Epiphany celebrates the appearance of a star in the heavens, a remarkable star followed by the Magi to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They are not so different, our daily epiphanies and the Epiphany celebrated today. The arrival of the Magi certainly changed Mary and Joseph’s perceptions of the world, the same way a helpless, tiny baby likely altered the Magi’s insights as to what a star in the heavens would reveal. The story of the Magi—and the story of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—is filled with unexpected changes in direction, as God’s plan continues to vary when it encounters people who cooperate with it, and others who attempt to thwart it. A deep and long reflection on this day we call Epiphany will uncover numerous epiphanies.


Like all of the Christmas season, Epiphany celebrates God’s eternal and infinite love. In a special way, this day shows how God’s love is truly all-inclusive. The magi were not Jews, not part of the Chosen People who expected that the Messiah was coming to save only them. Early on in his Gospel, Matthew tells us that God’s love will not be limited by our human presumptions or boundaries. We still struggle with the fact that God is constantly epiphan-izing us to grow beyond the limits of our experience or expectations, to move beyond the boundaries of the world around us. Let us pray that we might be given epiphanies to help us find grace where we didn’t believe it existed, to aid us in understanding that God’s love is most often shown by who is included, not who is excluded. May we open our eyes and hearts to know that the Christ-light shines everywhere.

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