The Epiphany of the Lord
As we celebrate the feast of Epiphany a critical part of the Gospel story is played by three wise men who come from the East. Today’s gospel passage shows that the good news of the Incarnation is meant for more than the Israelites, or any other group—it is meant for all people, represented by the kings from afar.
Throughout history believers have grappled with the temptation to exclusivity. In Vatican II’s document on non-Christian religions the church states that other religious traditions do in fact glimpse the divine mystery and offer a path of right living. And yet there are still voices that claim exclusivity. They do not understand the meaning of the Epiphany in the Gospel of Matthew.
At the end of today’s Gospel passage, the Magi are told to return home by a different route. On a symbolic level this tells us that they could never go home the same way because this encounter with a new-born child has changed them forever. They were truly on a religious journey or pilgrimage. As we encounter this new-born child, our lives cannot be the same either. Journeys presuppose movement from one point to another. Religious journeys presuppose a transformation or conversion. We have just past a milestone in our journey in leaving an old year behind. As we begin a new year, a new opportunity to leave the past behind and start anew, we have to ask ourselves some questions. In our journey, are we still following the star, or have we become distracted? Is there something impeding our vision of the light that can cast out all darkness? In our journey, are we still bearing gifts, the gift of our talents and our time to those in need of it? Are we still committed to the journey? Are we still open to personal transformation and conversion?
The feast of Christmas reminds us that we have received a gift... and it is a gift given to us by our God to be shared. Like the magi, when we empty ourselves of our treasure by sharing our lives with those around us, we too make room for the love that the Christ Child brings. Then we can recognize in those around us the light, the star, the child that lead us on our pilgrimage as well.
Fr. Larry Snyder, Vice President for Mission