Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sunday, January 2, 2011 - Feast of Epiphany

The Magi, trust their message given in a dream and return, not merely geographically, but wisdom-wise, by an “other way”. 
This “other way” is what Epiphany means.
The Magi symbolize our noblest human efforts. 

They go trekking for the truth. Finding it, they give homage, not to the high and mighty Herod, but to the child of the Most High.
Epiphany is not only a dramatic feast. 
It is a missionary feast as well. Its message is for the nations. And if people of faith do not proclaim it, our children will be left to the Herods of the world.

From Goffine's Devout Instructions on the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and Holydays:
Why did the Wise Men come from afar to seek the Saviour in Jerusalem? 

They lived in Arabia, and had acquired some information of the prophecies of Israel, particularly of the 
noted prophecy of Balaam, "A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel" 
(Num. xxiv. IT), which was the more significant to them because they were, as their name denotes, skilled 
in astronomy. But to these human considerations must be added the light of divine inspiration, as St. Leo says, 
" The star shone also in their hearts a beautiful example for us to follow, without delay, the inspirations of divine 
grace, and to do the will of God without fear of men." 
What was the significance of the presents which the Wise Men offered to the Saviour?

In offering gold the Wise Men honored the infant Jesus as King ; in frankincense, as God ; in myrrh, as suffering Man. 

How can we offer to Jesus similar gifts? 

1) We can present Him with gold by giving up to Him what we value most, our will;  also by giving alms in His name to the poor.  
2) We can present Him incense in fervent and devout prayers ascending to heaven. 
3) We can present Him myrrh by preserving purity of body and soul.
Here is Scott Hahn's reflection on The Feast of the Epiphany --  Listen Here!  A King to Behold

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:-12,7-8, 10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

An “epiphany” is an appearance. In today’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

Herod, in today’s Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise - one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Samuel 2:5), the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth” (see Micah 5:1-3).

Those promises of Israel’s king ruling the nations resound also in today’s Psalm. The psalm celebrates David’s son, Solomon. His kingdom, we sing, will stretch “to the ends of the earth,” and the world’s kings will pay Him homage. That’s the scene too in today’s First Reading, as nations stream from the East, bearing “gold and frankincense” for Israel’s king.

The Magi’s pilgrimage in today’s Gospel marks the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, are following the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler’s staff over the house of Jacob (see Numbers 24:17).

Laden with gold and spices, their journey evokes those made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and the “kings of the earth” (see 1 Kings 10:2,25; 2 Chronicles 9:24). Interestingly, the only other places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon (see Song of Songs 3:6, 4:6,14).

One greater than Solomon is here (see Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are “co-heirs” of the royal family of Israel, as today’s Epistle teaches.

His manifestation forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Him as the wise Magi did? Or will we be like those priests and the scribes who let God’s words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

Yours in Christ,

Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

John Kavanaugh, S. J., of Saint Louis University
Larry Gillick, S. J., of Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality 

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