Epiphany comes from the Greek, epiphaneia, meaning manifestation, striking appearance or come suddenly into view. It is when we celebrate the Three Kings, who are gentiles, coming to worship the Christ child as Lord. But how does Christ manifest himself in your life?
Reading 1: Isaiah 60: 1 – 6
The return from exile in Trito-Isaiah foreshadows the liberation won by Christ though his manifestation to the world. The Gentiles converging upon Jerusalem provide a glimpse of the manifestation of Christ – not just to the chosen people, but to the Gentiles and to the entire world (Birmingham, Word & Worship A, p. 117).
Rise up, light, shines, glory, radiance, overflow, proclaiming. These are all words that speak to us of what happens when we allow God into our life. Richard Rohr says, “What you seek is what you are. The search for God and the search for our True Self are finally the same search.” So it is an inner journey for us. Have there been moments in your life that God has touched you in a way that you felt these words? Were they times that you felt true to yourself too?
Reading 2: Ephesians 3: 2 – 3a, 5 – 6
When Paul thought of this mystery which had been revealed to him, he thought of himself as a recipient of a new revelation. Sometimes we may relate to times when solutions to problems flash before us and we don’t know how they got there. Or maybe a synchronicity happens, a type of coincidence. Is Spirit at work?
Paul’s revelation (or epiphany) is that we are ALL coheirs, copartners in the body of Christ. This has multiple levels of meaning for us today. Explore within yourself what this means for you, with your family, your parish, your community, your country, all people…
N.T. Wright in Paul, A Biography, feels Paul is trying to say, “Unity and holiness will come, and will only come, as the mind of the community and of the individuals within it are transformed to reflect the mind of the Messiah himself…Paul is using letters to teach his churches not just what to think, but how to think,” (p. 272, 274). Christ wanted us all to be One. One body of Christ. So Paul is trying to impress that message on to this community at Ephesus in a very real way.
Some historical background: The city of Ephesus is located in what is now western Turkey, across the Aegean Sea from Athens. In NT times it was both the capital city and the leading commercial center in the Roman province of Asia (not the Asia of today). It was a thoroughly Roman city. The book of Acts says that Paul paid a brief visit to Ephesus on his 2nd missionary journey (18:19-21) and returned on his 3rd journey (19:1-41; 20:17-38) to spend between 2-3 years there. Paul’s time in Ephesus usually is dated in the early to mid 50s, and he is believed to have written 1 Corinthians from there and possibly other letters. He was imprisoned there, and seems to have adversaries, (Introducing the New Testament, M. Powell, p. 326-327).
Gospel Reading: Matthew 2: 1-12
After contemplating the staggering fact that God has become a human child, we turn to look at this mystery from the opposite angle and realize that this seemingly helpless Child is, in fact, the omnipotent God, the King and Ruler of the universe. The feast of Christ’s divinity completes the feast of His humanity. It fulfills all our Advent longing for the King “who is come with great power and majesty.” We see that whereas Christmas is the family feast of Christianity, Epiphany is the great “world feast of the Catholic Church.” At Christmas the Light shone forth, but dimly, seen only by a few around the crib: Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. But at Epiphany the Light bursts forth to all nations and the prophecy is fulfilled. Epiphany demands that like these kings we should return to our own countries a different way, carrying to all those we meet the light of Christ, (Chaney, https://www.catholicculture.org).
From Ronald Rolheiser: To bless another person is to give away some of one’s own life so that the other might be more resourced for his or her journey. Good parents do that for their children. Good teachers do that for their students, good mentors do that for their protégés, good pastors do that for their parishioners, good politicians do that for their countries, and good elders do that for the young. They give away some of their own lives to resource the other. The wise men did that for Jesus.
How do we react when a young star’s rising begins to eclipse our own light?