today’s gospel at mass is rich with symbolism and christian themes. i would love to preach a whole retreat on this reading– the epiphany.
coupled with the text, the common definitions could spice up the reflecitons too. from merriam-webster, epiphany is defined as:
1 capitalized : January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ 2 : an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being 3a(1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b : a revealing scene or moment
over the years at mass, i have shared these reflections from the epiphany:
**how does evil–symbolized by herod– co-opt well intention people in order to preserve corrupt power?
**what stars in our lives lead us to encounter jesus as the christ?
**what kind of king is this newborn baby from bethlehem; what is troubling about jesus?
**what joys come to us when the stars in our lives reappear?
**what, why, whom do we worship and adore in our lives?
**what gifts in our lives do we offer God?
**how do we prepare, carry and honor the cross– symbolized by myrrh– in our lives?
**once we encounter/worship jesus, how do we go back to our lives “by another way”?
for me, these questions are born from the text:
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
the epiphany is about transformation: of ourselves, our values, our worship, and the evil in our world.
today, this question captures my imagination: once we encounter/worship jesus, how do we go back to our lives “by another way”?
other related questions are: what the other ways/roads in our lives that the Spirit presents to us? are we so comfortable in the current way that it is an obstacle to change? has my (sunday) worship become rote? how do i translate worship into actions of love and service that are life giving? how do we see the vulnerable and helpless christ in the world today? who is exploiting vulnerable and weak people in our midst? what different road must i walk today?
please pray this blessing on your home:
Lord God of heaven and earth,
you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation
by the guidance of a star.
Bless this house
and all who inhabit it.
Fill us with the light of Christ,
that our concern for others may reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
May Christ Jesus dwell with us,
keep us from all harm,
and make us one in mind and heart,
now and forever. Amen
( https://www.usccb.org/prayers/blessing-home-and-household-epiphany )