Feast of the Epiphany

01-02-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Often times there are books written about "roads taken, or not taken" in life. People often reflect upon their lives and write autobiographies as if they are journeys in life. Oftentimes people will describe their growing up as a journey in life from one point to the next to the next etc. Often this literature describes how one needs to keep going at all times no matter what. Our Feast of Epiphany is about a journey for some exotic foreigners from the East who have to put one foot in front of the other for a very long time in order to find and see an unknown foretold new-born king.

In our first reading from Isaiah, the prophet is describing Jerusalem in magnificent and glowing words. The prophet is talking to the Jewish exiles who can now journey home and he describes their home as a shining city on a hill. As the Jews put one foot in front of another as they journey home from Exile, they can see this awesome city sitting on a hill with its light shining forth to beckon them home. This certainly is an inspirational image and passage for the Jews of then and for all of us through time. Jerusalem beckons and welcomes everyone.

This first reading certainly matches up and connects to our Gospel passage of the exotic astrologers or kings who made a great and long journey. They even had to stop and ask King Herod for directions, who really did not care about his Jewish subjects and their religion. Herod, however, recognized that the foreigners were alerting him to a possible threat to his power and throne. Despite Herod and his duplicity, they finally found their way to the Holy Family and were able to offer their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new born child.

This wonderfully exotic and mind capturing story has many symbols in it for us. The Magi in many ways are a symbol for all non-Jewish people; they are like the shepherds on the hillsides on Christmas Eve who are symbols of all the poor, the disposed, the immigrant and the refugees in life. When we hear the Christmas Eve story of the birth of Jesus, we realize that the "glad tidings' were not announced to the powerful and rich as people would expect, but to the poor and honest hard working shepherds. Again no one would have expected non-Jews, that is Gentiles, to be the ones who journey to Israel and ultimately announce to the whole world the coming of the Messiah. The reason our second reading is from Saint Paul is because in this passage he admits no one would ever expected him to become a follower of Jesus as he had been fanatically devoted at one point of killing every follower of Jesus Christ. The story told us about the "Coming the Three Kings" is full of powerful symbols and irony. This story captures not only our hearts but also our imagination. What we do as a result of this story is very important.

Traditionally the Feast of Epiphany has been called "Little Christmas" because it was when Jesus the Christ Child was revealed to the whole world. We are not asked to reveal Jesus to the whole world, but instead to reveal Him to the people in our world and our lives. This is not done by talking people to death about religion, but simply like the Magi by putting one foot in front of the other and setting an example of our Christian and Catholic Way of Life.

Fr. Brian