Saturday, 7 January 2012

SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD (JANUARY 8 2012): A REFLECTION ON THE READINGS

Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the epiphany of our Lord. Epiphany is a kind of theophany which is God’s revelation and manifestation of Himself. In the bible, we see several instances of this divine manifestation. In the Old Testament, we recall the incidence of the burning bush where God revealed His name as I AM. In the New Testament, the baptism of Jesus is another example of theophany. God revealed Himself in the Voice of the Father who spoke about the Son, in the Son who was being baptized and in the Holy Spirit who descended on the Son in the form of a dove.  In today’s theophany, God is revealing and manifesting Himself this time not to the Jews but to Gentiles whom He guided to the birthplace of Christ through a star. We shall therefore reflect on some interesting aspects of the readings that will help us appreciate the epiphany better.

In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah invites us to rise and shine

out for our Light has come. He calls us to witness to the Light. This light is Christ who we celebrate his birth this season. Are we ready to leave our works of darkness and follow the light of Christ which illumines our paths to heaven? Without Christ, our vision is blurred and our journey is hopeless because we cannot see our way since Christ is the Way. If Christ is living in and among us, we must therefore allow others to experience this light in us which is supposed to guide them through our actions.

In the second reading, St Paul talks of God’s revelation and manifestation of Himself to the Gentiles. In the Jewish tradition, the Gentiles were regarded as an inferior race who were unworthy of God’s salvation. The scripture records several instances of humiliating racial discrimination against the Gentiles by the Jews. But at Christ’s birth, the good news was no longer for the Jews alone but also for the Gentiles. What this means for us is that now, we all have a chance to make heaven. God’s graces for repentance and salvation are available for all. There is no barrier between us and God except the sins we commit. When we claim to be righteous Christians and look down on sinners instead of helping them repent, we might be surprised to see them in heaven even before us.

In the gospel reading, the Evangelist narrates the visit of the Magi from the East to Bethlehem led by a star. These men were regarded as wise men (Magi) because of their ability to recognize the Star and their readiness to follow it. They decided to take the risk of finding the new born Jesus. Can we really look for God the way these men did. May be, this time not by leaving for an unknown land but by following “The Star” faithfully and meticulously. The Star was a blinking particle of light not so bright but it led them to the abode of the Light of the world. This Star could mean for us, our faith commitment, our Bible, our fellowship and everything that will lead us to Christ. Can we take the risk involved in finding Christ because the road is not easy but full of thorns?

These Magi found Christ and made their finding remarkable with the homage and worship they rendered him. They also presented him with great gifts. At Christmas, the burden of going out to search for Christ has been reduced because Christ comes to us in the form of a baby in a manger, we only need to go and meet him. So now that the burden is less what gift can you present to Christ this Christmas season and new year? The best gift we can give to him is the best gift we have received from him which is our lives. Can you offer Christ your life as a new year gift by maintaining peace, love, holiness and by doing all those things that pleases him?

The Magi did not only worship and present gifts to Christ but also obeyed the directive of the angel who warned them in a dream never to return to Herod. Herod for us symbolizes everything against the Spirit of Christ, especially sin. As the Magi never went back to Herod who asked them to return, we must also, never go back to those sins asking us to return. As we enter a new year, turn a new leaf and let men know that you really encountered Christ at Christmas. As the Magi went home rejoicing, may the joy of Christ’s birth always abide with you. Amen.
   

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