January 1, 2021
The Feast of the Epiphany
Written by Wanda Cakebread - Apostle of the Resurrection
First Reading Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm. Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Second Reading Ephesians 3 :2-3A, 5-6
Alleluia Matthew 2:2
Gospel Matthew 2:1-12
In the First Reading, Isaiah reassures us that a great light will end the darkness and so it happens. A great star appeared and led the way to the Christ Child.
The Gospel describes the journey that the Magi had embarked on. They asked King Herod if he knew where to find this newborn Royal Child. While he could not help them, Herod wanted them to report back because he too wanted to visit this Child. It is amazing how brave and adventurous these men were, traveling into parts unknown. The voyage had to be very difficult compared to modern modes of transportation and yet they took the risk and persisted. The Magi had faith that they would find what they were searching for. They followed a star which stopped over the stable where the Child was found.
The Magi reacted with joy as they prostrated themselves before the Christ Child. They brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to present to this very special Child. The gift of Gold acknowledged Jesus as King of Kings. The Frankincense acknowledged the divinity of Jesus and the Myrrh which was used to anoint the dead was a foreshadowing of Jesus' Crucifixion.
This image has become indelibly etched on my mind because of my seven year old granddaughter. Our Nativity set is touched and played with so the children can feel as well as see the characters. Questions are asked and answered. She asked who these men were and why were they bringing gifts to the Baby. I explained and continued cooking. Awhile later, she came and asked if she could give the Baby a gift too. I agreed and after she found a small object in a dish nearby containing buttons, coins, stones etc. she asked me to see her gift. She had placed a small cross with the words 'God loves you' imprinted on it. (See picture below)
This took my breath away. Such a theological action from a small child that has not been 'churched' by her parents. Her actions represent for me a true encounter with Jesus that Pope Francis frequently calls us to. While the Magi were seeking Jesus, this time Jesus came as a surprise. This truly was a 'mystical moment' where I became aware and assured that God is with us all. (Ron Rohlheiser)
Jesus is revealed to be divine, who came into the world to be one of us...to be born and die with and for us.
The Magi were the first Gentiles to encounter the Christ Child who came for all. The plan of Salvation included all races, all cultures, all languages and all faiths. No one is to be excluded. The response to the Psalm states "Lord, every nation will adore you" and confirms the universality of Christ and the Church. God became one of us and for all of us. The Magi did not return to Herod; they were warned that he did not have good intentions. This reading also forecasted the conflicting reactions to the Christ Child. While the Magi were filled with faith and awe, there was opposition already demonstrated by Herod and his cronies. To this very day, such contrasting reactions exist.
To celebrate the Epiphany, there is a Polish tradition where chalk is blessed and upon returning home, they make the following chalk mark above their front door: the first half of the year then K+M+B then the last half of the year: for example, 20 K+M+B 21
The letters stand for Kaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the names of the Magi. This is also an invitation for Christ to bless this house (Christus Mansionem Benedicat).
What a profound act of love! God sent His Son to become one of us. I am truly and profoundly humbled within my encounter with Christ, especially during the challenges of this strange year. The encounter is more real and more transparent as we are experiencing a new way of being with each other and with Jesus. The light of Christ is the Gift we can give each other, especially in the darkest moments.
Questions for Reflection:
1.How often do you experience true joy? When? Why?
2.What risks have you taken in following your faith? To encounter others?
3.When have you experienced a sign or warning that protected you from harm?
4.What are some gifts/talents you bring to your encounters with Christ and others?