for Sunday, January 3, 2016
Jesus is revealed as God. That is what Epiphany means. Jesus comes as a baby born of Mary. It took a revelation for others to begin to believe that this was truly God. That coming to believe is Epiphany. Some of us have types of spiritual experiences in which we come to recognize what God is asking of us. Some of us never have those types of experiences. Yet all of us are called to seek to live as fully and completely as we can in this life.
Perhaps we have seen glimpses of God in our lives. This is also epiphany: when we see something so beautiful that we believe only a God could have created it. Or perhaps we have heard a piece of music that touched something with us: perhaps another epiphany. Or maybe we have heard someone speak of God in a way that brought us to belief. This is also epiphany.
The magi from the East came looking for the Christ Child because of something that they saw in the skies. It sounds unusual for us today, but such things happen all through history. Their arrival in Judea makes Herod uneasy about his position as ruler of Judea. Yet when these magi finally meet the baby Jesus, they bow in worship and head home in another way, having been told in a dream to do that.
Epiphany is mysterious. Why we recognize something out of the ordinary in something that seems quite ordinary is always a mystery. Part of our humanity inclines us toward seeking beyond what we know. Sometimes we call it science, but even that urge to expand our knowledge implies something within us which believes that always more is possible. Epiphany.
The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, also speaks of a vague knowledge of the future when the fortunes of Jerusalem will change. This inner and deep longing and even belief that change is possible is part of epiphany. Do we really believe that peace is possible in our own time, throughout our whole world? That is the longing that draws people towards Epiphany.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Ephesians and states that this experience of God is for all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike. That is simply a way of stating that God's salvation is for all. Everyone is invited to share the salvation given to us by God.
The challenge is epiphany: that experience that reveals to us that God exists and God seeks us actively to draw us into divinity. In today's celebration we rejoice that Christ is born, King of the Jews and King of all who seek salvation. Let us rejoice in His birth and know that He seeks us. May the Holy Child embrace us this day.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 60.1-6
Second Reading: Ephesians 3.2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2.1-12
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: