HOMILY ON THE FEAST OF EPIPHANY. JANUARY 5, 2020.
Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13.
Ephesians 3:2-3A, 5-6
The truth is not hidden; it is manifested for all to see. Christ is the truth. Those who search for the truth will surely find it in Him, but those who are envious of the truth and whose hearts are closed (Herod’s) will remain in the darkness of life.Clem
Happy new year, my dearest people of God. Today we celebrate the feast of Epiphany. Today is also the first Sunday in the New Year 2020. To God be the glory, We are privileged to be here to worship and adore like the three Magi from the East. May all glory, honor, and adoration be unto Christ the Lord.
The Greek word “Epiphany” (επιφάνεια), means appearance or manifestation. In the Western Church, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ first appearance to the Gentiles, represented by the three Magi; while in the Eastern Church, the feast is the commemoration of the baptism of Christ where the Father and the Holy Spirit gave combined testimony to Jesus’ identity as Son of God. Later, in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus revealed himself as the promised Messiah, and at Cana Jesus revealed his Divinity by transforming water into wine. These multiple revelations are all suggested by the Feast of the Epiphany.
God takes the initiative of revealing ( manifesting) Himself to man through nature (indirect revelation) or through direct supernatural revelation. In whichever way, God wants to bring man to the knowledge of Himself. God’s revelation of His Himself in Christ is the final and definitive revelation. No other public revelation is expected before the final glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit.It remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. Private revelation recognized by the Church over the centuries does not belong to the deposit of faith, neither does it improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation.
God created man and endowed him with faculties capable of comprehending revealed truths. Man, therefore, is capable of assenting to the truths of divine revelation.
Today’s feast narrates God’s revelation of Himself to the Gentiles represented by the three Magi. The Magi were not kings, but a caste of Persian priests who served Kings by using their skills in interpreting dreams and the movements of the stars. Tradition holds each of them came from a different culture: Melchior was Asian, Balthazar was Persian and Caspar was Ethiopian – thus representing the three races known to the ancient world. They were nature worshippers. God used that of which they had knowledge i.e what they could interpret –the stars ( for they were astrologers) to lead them to His Son. They worshipped nature before Christ was born, but when Christ came, God took them out of that old religion to the new which centers on the worship of His Son Jesus. Unfortunately, in our world are people who still worship nature or idols. Various forms of idolatry ( occultic powers) exist in our world and are patronized by even those who call themselves Christians. Our forefathers worshipped the various gods. They hadn’t the privilege of embracing Christianity but now Christianity has come and yet many find it difficult to give up the old religion leading to syncretism in Christian beliefs.
Thanks to God, the visit of these magi bore witness to the fact that God has no favorites and that no religion has a monopoly on God. We do not condemn any religion as evil, because God reveals Himself to them too. While it could be said that no religion is superior to another, the Christian religion ( Catholicism) has the fullness of divine revelation. We Catholics should appreciate and be proud of what we have.
God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of His only begotten son Jesus who is God and Savior.. We need to find Him. We need to welcome him into our lives. Our Christian life is a daily struggle to come to this knowledge of God. The closer we come to God the closer He comes to us (cf James 4:8) and the better our lives.
The three Magi were led by the star to Jerusalem but could not locate the exact birthplace of Christ, so they inquired from the household of Herod. It was in the scriptures that the priests and scribes found and informed them of the exact birthplace of Christ- Bethlehem. This helps us to better appreciate the centrality of the word of God in our Christian life. We need His word daily to discover the truth about our lives and the meaning behind our daily experiences. God’s word is a roadmap to discovering Him. Little wonder did St. Jerome says: “ignorance of the scripture is ignorance of God”. In the Bible lies the truth of eternal life. Like the Magi, every person has two great ‘books’ which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God Who speaks to us, Who always speaks to us.” – Pope Francis
Mere possession of this truth ( Bible) does not guarantee to find Christ. Herod had this truth but could not find Christ because his heart is evil. He was envious and refused to embrace the truth of the birth of another king–Christ. Preserving his kingship was more important than the lives of those innocent children he murdered because he wants to eliminate the newborn king. When our ambition beclouds our minds and reasoning, when our hearts lack love and compassion, when we are jealous and refuse to embrace the truth, we become Herods who will never find Christ. Sure, not everyone who goes to Church will find Christ and finally make heaven. Heaven is for those whose hearts are pure and open to accept Christ; who live daily in practice of his love. Herod deceitfully asked the three magi to ascertain and relate to him where the child was born, in the pretense of going to adore Him while he had some ulterior motive. There are many Herods today who go to church not to worship Christ but to cause confusion. There are many who seek to destroy the Church and her ministers because their hearts are closed to embrace the truth she professes. If Herod did not succeed, whoever fights the Church will not succeed, because she is established on a solid Rock.
Let’s seek Christ to promote the ministry of the church. The mission of the Church is our mission too. Like the scribes and priests who were indifferent to the birth of Christ, don’t be indifferent to God and His church.
Like the shepherds and the magi, let us adore Christ daily and offer him no longer gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but the gift of our lives in service to humanity, in love for our neighbors and in charity to the poor.
There is so much to be learned from their going back through another route. They did not go back to Herod because they were instructed not to. We need to take another route in life instead of going back to that route that will bring destruction upon us and expose many to danger. This new year calls for a change in direction. Those who encounter Christ shouldn’t go back to the route of sin. By obeying the instruction from God, they didn’t go back to Herod. You could imagine what would have happened if the magi were disobedient to the instruction, and went back to Herod. Our disobedience to the word of God is often the cause of our pains and misfortunes. Let us learn to listen to the inner voice of the spirit and the follow the direction that God instructs us to take. In prayers, God speaks to us; live a prayerful life and you will discover that God still speaks in our time.
May we open our hearts to accept Christ(the truth) who revealed himself to us. May He lead us to find Him. May we be obedient to His commandments and may this new year bring us greater happiness, protection, and favors from God. Happy new year.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
©Clem C. Aladi