The Epiphany of the Lord - Year A - 8th January, 2017

Home by a Different Way

The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to go beyond surface appearances. Or rather, it invites us to read the subtle signs of the presence of God.

The gospel today has three wise men on a journey. Note the difference between them and King Herod. He rejected the coming of Christ and saw him as a possible rival. We are told that all Jerusalem (Rabies, Teachers of the Law etc) joined him in being perturbed; perhaps out of fear of Herod's violent anger, or of their status quo being disturbed. The rejection of these experts was based on apathy, and indifference. They knew the scripture, but they did nothing about it. If Herod and the Jewish Leaders were to go to the stable with the wise men, they would see nothing other than a birth in poverty to an insignificant family.

The wise men look and they see very differently. They see the promises of God fulfilled. They see almighty God in a weak and helpless infant. They see majesty where there is humility. And they fall to their knees. The have seen the inner meaning and they know the truth. It is a moment of illumination, when outwardly nothing changes, but inwardly God floods their hearts.

The Magi must have been a little surprised by what they found. Those searching for a king would have expected to find him in a palace, decked-out in royal robes, servants attending to his every need. It was a humble stable occupied by people who probably seemed pretty ordinary at first glance. Yet the gospel reading tells us that the Magi "prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." The only way the Magi would have done this was by seeing Jesus and Mary through eyes of faith.

In our approach to God we too can be calculating like Herod and the Jewish Leadership and so fail. to recognise His presence especially in the most unlikely people.

The wise men were told to go home by another way. They did it to avoid Herod but there is a deeper spiritual meaning. The story is saying that once you have experienced Jesus, you can't go back to the old way of life. In fact, the story assumes that we are on the new road, with a new mission. That we are living forgiveness, serving the needy, opening our heart to others on the way.

Are we like the wise men open to God's light in our world or do we stay in the shadows, hiding from God's illuminating presence?

Fr Kevin O'Shea C.M.