Homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany year C
Introduction: The First Reading, Isaiah tells us: The light has come.
The Second Reading, Paul notes: This light is Jesus Christ, the revealer of the mystery of God.
The Gospel, Matthew tells us: This light is for everyone. It is shining for all the world.
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany which is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. (CCC 528). So in our gospel today we hear of the visit and the adoration of Jesus by the wise men from the east. They saw the star as it rose. They studied it and found that it points to something deeper and important in fact it is directing them to someone special. So they followed it until it ‘halted over the place where the child was.’ Matthew wrote this gospel to instruct the people then and for us now, that Jesus is not just the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for, but that He is at the same time the Messiah of all peoples, the saviour of the world. St Paul in our Second Reading today would affirm this when he wrote of the revelation of the mystery of God given to him. In his letter to Ephesians, Paul notes that this ‘mystery’ “means pagans now share the same inheritance…parts of the same body…and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus…(Eph 3:2-3, 5-6).
The visit of the wise men speaks so much of this universal mission of Jesus to save. It is part of God’s plan that everyone hears of his saving plan for the world in Jesus Christ. The wise men had this inner longing in their hearts to search for God, so they set out to search the child until they found him. Not only that, they also gave him gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh. (Mt:2:1-12). According to some scriptural interpretation and tradition, the gifts of the Magi signify the humanity, the divinity and the kingship of Jesus. Mark Link, Jesuit has an interesting summary of the meaning of these gifts of the magi to the newborn child. Link noted that the “three gifts of the magi can be interpreted to reveal three truths about Jesus. First, the myrrh symbolizes the humanity of Jesus [for Myrrh later on would be used for his burial]. Second, the frankincense symbolizes the divinity of Jesus [for incense is usually used in the temple rituals, worship and adoration to God]. Third, the gold symbolizes the kingship of Jesus. Jesus came among us to lead us, to inspire us, to invite us to join him in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth- a kingdom of love, and kingdom of peace, a kingdom of hope.”
But what does the Solemnity of the Epiphany teach us?
It teaches us three things: First, it tells us about the importance of upholding our faith. The faith (i.e. God’s initial invitation) of the wise men empowers them to search out for the God-became-man, despite the uncertainty of their journey. Their faith gives them courage not to do what Herod wants them to do but rather to go back to their own country via another route. In other words, their visit to the child Jesus became their turning point and the confirmation of their faith, their point of conversion.
Like the magi, let’s keep up with our faith despite the uncertainty of our situations, despite the apparent trials, challenges, the problems that we as a Church are facing at the moment. The magi might have lost track of the star at times but they went on. So also are we. There might be times in our life that we feel so dry, so drained, so empty, just nothing, or even at times we feel faith doesn’t make sense anymore. But despite all these we are to keep up walking in faith and with faith in God. We remind ourselves always that over and above the thick clouds of doubt and uncertainties, there is always a clear blue sky.
The second thing that epiphany teaches us is that no matter who we are, what tribe do we come from, what language do we speak, how little we think we might be and can do, we are all one and important in God. We are all gifts to one another. Henry Ward Beecher had a nice way of putting this. He wrote: ”God appoints our graces to be nurses to other men’s [and women's] weaknesses.”
I liked this quote very much that I posted it on my Facebook wall and added my own comment. In there I wrote: “No wonder I haven’t got everything. But I have got something that others don’t. And others have something that I don’t have…so to get the best of everything, let’s share our blessings...”
Let us take care of one another then because even though we might have different skin colour, different language, different cultural upbringing, or different in many ways, yet we are all called and invited by the same God. We are all coming from one source of life, that is God. And this same God is the one who came into the world to lead us into the way of Life. This God is calling us to share and celebrate life with one another. And we must not take this for granted. See, this same God in Jesus invites Herod and the scribes yet they didn’t let go of their securities. Herod considered him as a threat to his security, power and political influence. Herod missed the call to be one with God, because he was too preoccupied with his own self-interest. This feast of Epiphany is therefore calling us to be like God in reaching out to different individuals and valuing each other regardless of skin, intellect, talent and years (Diversity).
The third thing that the feast of the Epiphany reminds us about is that this is also our encounter with Jesus – an encounter that calls us to faith. It is the faith of the wise men that empowered them and made them courageous to go back on a different route. It is their faith that encourages them to walk on the way of conversion. Conversion here means an ongoing process, not a one-off thing, or an overnight project. Conversion means walking with God and having a real, personal and living relationship with our Jesus our God. Everyday we are all invited to walk on this path of conversion. How? Here are few practical tips: Daily reflection on the word of God in the Scriptures, regular attendance of the Holy Mass, Praying constantly (devotional and personal), doing works for the good of others, doing works that we love doing for our good, talking with someone who is living alone, going out with good friends, etc. Conversion is allowing God to be part and parcel of our life in all aspects.
So as we continue our celebration of the Epiphany, let’s thank God for creating this encounter with him. At the same time, let us resolve to keep up with our faith by walking on the way of conversion through the little things, yet heartfelt and motivated by love, we can do for ourselves, for others and for God. Let this be our resolution, our prayer and our reflection.
 Mark Link, S.J., Experiencing Jesus: His Story (Texas: Argus Communications, 1984), 81-82.