Epiphany means manifestation. We celebrate therefore the manifestation of our Lord Jesus to the whole world. After being made known to the shepherds of Bethlehem, he is revealed to the Magi who have come from the East to adore him. In fact, the Christian tradition sees the Magi as the first fruits of the Gentiles; to whom Christ the Savior of the world was revealed to and that makes today our Christmas.
The Epiphany is also a feast of LIGHT. The prophet Isiah describes the content and purpose of the Feast: ‘Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you’ (Is. 60:1). For he who is the true light and by whom we too are made to be light, has indeed come into the world. And according to John, he came to give us power to become children of God (cf. Jn. 1: 9,12).
According to some theologians with these wise men, one can say that humanity’s pilgrimage to Jesus Christ begins. These wise men lead the way as they open the path of the Gentiles to Christ. Pope Francis will put it thus: "the destiny of every person is symbolized in this journey which is illuminated by the lights which brighten our way to find the fullness of truth and love".
The first reading from Prophet Isaiah was the call of Jerusalem to be the city of light which reflects God’s light to the world and helps humanity to walk in his ways. This also can be seen to be the vocation and mission of the people of God in this world. But we must remember, if we are not alert and careful, we can get lost in this mission. Yes, sin can distract us and take us off track.
In celebrating this solemnity we must also remember that there are two kinds of searchers of light and truth in the world even today as it was at the birth of Jesus. There were Genuine searchers and self-centred searchers. Matthew challenges us to ask ourselves what kind of searchers are we today.
First group is that of King Herod who sought only to kill the child.
The gospel tells us that the magi, when they arrived in Jerusalem, they lost sight of the star for a time. They no longer saw it. Its light was particularly absent from the palace of King Herod, probably because Herod's palace was gloomy, filled with darkness, suspicion, fear and envy. He became envious and enraged to think that someone is born to overthrow him and plots to eliminate the threat.
The second group is represented by the Wise Men's desire which was only to see Jesus and to worship Him as the King of Kings. They were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod because they believed the scriptures.
We learn from this group that God loves and supports genuine searchers and He reveals Himself to them, constantly. Two years ago Pope Francis advised we apply spiritual shrewdness or ‘Holy cunning’ as he called it, in our journey of faith. According to him, this ‘holy cunning’ is a virtue; for it helps a believer recognize danger and how to avoid it. Indeed we need to guard our faith from darkness as did the wise men. This is because the devil, as st. Paul says, disguises himself at times as an angel of light.
We can again begin our journey of faith today by believing the scriptures and being more attentive to the true teaching of the gospel of Jesus the light of the world as we follow the examples of the wise men.
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