Homily, Epiphany of the Lord, 2023.

Epiphany : A Homily

The arrangement that Christmas comes before Epiphany by the Church is not for aesthetics sake, rather it’s to show what actually happened and the message it has for us.

In Christmas season, WE ARE NOT CELEBRATING THE BIRTHDAY of Jesus, that is , that Jesus was born on 25th December or 6th January—BUT the BIRTH OF Jesus, that is, that the Word was made flesh and DWELT amongst us. It’s NOT ABOUT THE DATE but ABOUT THE BIRTH.

In Epiphany, the glory of the Word made flesh is made manifest in a preeminent way. That Word is Christ Jesus, who dwelt historically among mankind, with the Israelites. Hence, the Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world (CCC 528).

Israel here doesn’t now refer only to the historical people of Israel living/who lived in the Middle East but primarily the People of God. In Jesus, the people of included all those who believe in him, whom he gave power to become the children of God (John 1:14). By this, it means that anyone can become a child of God. This very act of enlarging the coast of God began from the Epiphany with the three Magi.

The Three readings of today are all referring to this enlargement that happened because God was made man and he manifested and was shown to mankind.

In the first reading Isaiah 60:1-6, nations are called by Isaiah to behold this new light. Isaiah never made any exceptions to this call, hence all are included who would respond.

In the Gospel Mathew 2: 1-12, this call by Isaiah was responded to by the three wise men who were not actually counted among the people of God in the eyes of Israelites. They were from another nation but Israel. They saw His glory and followed his light in the form of a star and it led them to Him who is the Son of God and the Savior of the World.

They payed him homage, and thus became His subjects, His own. By this, they who were not part of the children of God became Children of God because He was made manifest and they followed and accepted his manifestation.

Herod didn’t accept His manifestation and thus removed himself from the Children of God.

By these two acts of the Magi and Herod, it points to us that Jesus is always made manifestation as God to mankind but the acceptance isn’t by force. It’s the acceptance of the glory of God in Jesus that merits us as Children of God. One thing is to see Hid glory and another thing is to accept His glory. And if one accepts His glory, his Light , such a person would never be lost but would reach one’s destination no matter what. But non acceptance leads to one being lost like Herod.

In the Second reading Ephesians 3:2, 5—6 St. Paul called this phenomenon of manifestation, acceptance and enlargement, and non acceptance a “mystery” which it actually is. For by human calculations it wouldn’t make sense that everyone(good and bad, black and white, all nations) shall become one in Christ Jesus. That’s why salvation and all power belongs to God.

This is possible if one accepts the light of Christ as a guide. Such person would become enlightened in his/her words, actions and thoughts. The result is that he would follow another road like the Magi who never returned to Herod because they had now been enlightened; they now knew better.

This light of Christ was left by Christ eternally in Church, the Jerusalem of Christ, where all in their cultural riches and differences are homed.

People who seem far apart because of language or ways of thinking are made to understand one another by the guidance of that light of Christ.

The Magi stands for the people of the world who let themselves be guided by Jesus’s light of love and peace. They are the image of the Church of Christ where one doesn’t loose his very good identity but adds to it.

The light brings people together to become one without loosing their good culture and enrich the Church the new Jerusalem with it.

Epiphany reminds us of where we began—in Christ; what Christ is—God and Our Saviour; what Christ needs from us—acceptance of his light and guidance; what we are — the people of God, Christians; and those He needs—all peoples.

Indeed, Jesus is the Star that guides all people’s.

© Fr. Henry Charles Umelechi

Truth Series

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