|First Reading:||Isaiah 60:1-6|
|Second Reading:||Ephesians 3.2-3a.5-6|
Today is the feast of the Epiphany, which is one of the feasts where the readings are the same each year. So, I revisited the meaning of the word “epiphany.” It comes from the ancient Greek word, epiphaneia, which means “manifestation or striking appearance." An epiphany is an experience of sudden and striking realization. The term is generally used to describe scientific breakthroughs and religious or philosophical discoveries. However, epiphany can also refer to any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.
After reviewing the meaning of the word epiphany, I looked at the homily starter I gave last year. The same Lectionary omission in the second reading caught my attention again this year. I realized that although epiphanies are often triggered by a new and key piece of information, they can also be triggered by looking at old information with new eyes..
So I looked at the verses that were left out again, they read, “as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.” This time I looked at the “few words” Paul wrote “above”. They were this, “In Christ the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in our God; in Christ you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.” John the Evangelist put it this way, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”
What Paul and John are saying in a nutshell is that we are all joined in Christ. Through Christ we dwell in God and God dwells in us. It is through this lens that I looked at today's Gospel. I saw the wise men as examples for us, in that we should follow the heavenly light that leads us to see the holy child, that is, the God-seed that is within each and everyone one of us.
Through this lens, the gifts of the Magi can also be seen as symbols of our Baptism. Baptism reminds us that we die and rise again in Christ. Old Testament references tell us that frankincense was a holy perfume used in the sanctuary; and, that myrrh was used in the anointing of the High Priest. In the New Testament, John’s Gospel tells us that Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes for the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial. The Wise Men also bring gold. This reminds us that our royal baptismal role is to act according to God's plan, that is as good shepherds rather than oppressors or exploiters. So the gifts of the Magi have baptismal significance, reminding us that we are to be priests, prophets and good shepherds.
The kindom of God is within in us. As priests, prophets and good shepherds in Christ, we are not to fall for the false advertising of modern herods. Rather, we are to nurture the God-seed within us. We are called to return to our core, collectively and individually, by following the direction placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit .
These are my reflections for Epiphany.
Please, take a moment, then share an epiphany experience that you've had over this Christmas season.