Isaiah 60: 1-6, Ephesians 3: 2-3a,5-6, Matthew 2: 1-12.
An Epiphany is a moment of revelation that manifests something previously hidden. Today’s Solemnity celebrates the Manifestation of Jesus Christ to the nations. The symbolism of light and darkness plays a major part in all three readings for today – but in very different ways.
In Isaiah’s poetic vision, dark and gloom give way to the light and glory of the Lord. “Darkness” and “thick clouds,” will become a source of light that will illumine the way of nations and kings who will walk by her “shining radiance.” As the body of Christ, it is we who now must be light for a world wrapped in darkness.
This Christmas as we celebrate the “Light of the World” coming among us, our city experienced the darkness of gun violence which claimed the lives of three people and injured several others within a radius of five miles. Our country is experiencing a government shut down because our leaders want to build a wall – preventing persecuted people from seeking freedom in a country that claims to be the “land of the free”.
Paul explains in Ephesians that in Christ, Gentiles and Jews are “members of the same body,” “coheirs” and “co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” God’s self-revelation in Christ is a gift to be shared with all nations. I ask myself, when will leaders of government and all of us learn to share our gifts, our land, and resources for the common good of all rather than self-interest? Can we receive the circumstances of our lives as gift and share with others our blessedness?
In Matthew’s gospel, the kingly visitors from the East followed a star that they read as a birth announcement for a new King of the Jews. They brought expensive gifts and endured much hardship in finding Jesus, for the sole purpose of doing him “homage” or giving him “worship.” Their guiding light revealed the darkness of Herod’s jealousy that forced the Holy Family into exile in Egypt and caused the massacre of the children of Bethlehem.
On this first Sunday of the New Year how can we carry “the Light of Christ” to touch those in “darkness” that we meet? May we pray: – Jesus Christ born to be our Savior, purify our hearts of all gift-seeking that keeps us from genuine gift giving to you and to others.
Therese Lenehan, O.P.