Today we observe the Epiphany, or revelation, of Christ to His people
Reflections on the readings for the Epiphany of the Lord (January 3, 2021): IS 60:1-6; PS 72:1-2,7-8,10-11,12-13; EPH 3:2-3,5-6; MT 2:1-12
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We know almost nothing about these mysterious strangers except that they traveled from the east following a star. Many later traditions have grown up about the Magi: that they were kings, that their names were Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, and, because of the three gifts, that there were exactly three of them.
On this holy day commemorating the Epiphany of the Lord, we celebrate the great manifestation of Jesus, Son of God and of man to the Gentiles. All people who are not Jewish are represented by the Magi who were searching for the King of the Jews. We know almost nothing about these mysterious strangers except that they traveled from the east following a star. Many later traditions have grown up about the Magi: that they were kings, that their names were Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, and, because of the three gifts, that there were exactly three of them. We do know that on their arrival in Jerusalem they went to see the current king of the Jews, Herod the Great. The Magi asked his help and Herod’s advisors provided it. “‘Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw His star at its rising and have come to do Him homage.’… ‘It has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah; are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd My people Israel’” (Matthew 2:2, 5-6).
While the visitors from the east wanted to show their reverence and pay tribute to this Infant, Herod immediately plotted His death. This ruler who should have been looking out for the welfare of his people and serving the Lord according to the law of Moses and the tradition of the prophets wanted only to preserve his own position. Later this reversal of what might have been expected would be repeated during the public ministry of Jesus and the beginnings of the Church. The leaders of Christ’s own people sought to kill Him and, with the cooperation of the Romans, their plans succeeded. While the original Apostles and other disciples were all Jews, in time, the majority of their converts came from among the Gentiles. But on this day, the Magi did what they set out to do and knelt before the Holy Child and His mother and gave Him gold for royalty, frankincense for divinity, and myrrh for mortality. Warned in a dream of the danger of returning to Herod, they went home by a different way – and disappeared from Scripture and history. Let us honor the Lord on this day by opening ourselves to the wonder of God’s will and mercy.