Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD TO ALL THE NATIONS AS MESSIAH-KING, LOVING GOD, AND SUFFERING SAVIOR
- Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 71 (72): 1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R/ cf. v. 11;
- Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
- Matthew 2:1-12
A joyous Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “epiphany” in Greek means “manifestation” or “revelation”, that is, the revelation of the Lord to all the nations!
The gospel today tells us that King Herod did not want to worship Jesus, but he wanted to kill him! King Herod was representative of the Jews who did not want to worship Jesus, but wanted to kill him. Indeed and in fact they did kill him on the cross!
But more importantly, the gospel tells us that “three” wise men from the east came to worship Jesus! The wise men were representative of all the nations of the world. That is why in the Christmas crib, they are colored black (African), yellow (Asian) and white (European).
But most importantly, are the “three” gifts of the wise men! The Church Fathers as early as St. Irenaeus (around 130-200), tell us that the three gifts symbolize Jesus Christ as Messiah-King (gold), Loving God (frankincense), and Suffering Savior (myrrh)! (NJB; NJBC; Lefrois; Raas)
In short, the gospel today tells us that all the nations of the world came to worship the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah-King, Loving God, and Suffering Savior! Who does not want to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah-King, Loving God, and Suffering Savior? St. Paul tells us in the letter to the Romans, chapter 11, that even the Jews who crucified him will worship him at the end of time!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jesus Christ is the light of the nations! In the New Testament, Light basically symbolizes three things: (i) light symbolizes anything or anyone that leads us to God. In the Old Testament it was the Law, in the New Testament it is Jesus Christ; (ii) light symbolizes life and happiness as opposed to darkness which symbolizes death and misery; (iii) light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness. (NJB; Jn 8b)
More importantly, the three themes are connected, that is, in God we find life and happiness, and we become good people! Most importantly, in the end, good will overcome evil, light will overcome darkness, life and happiness will overcome death and misery, and God will overcome the Devil! Again, the first reading tells us that Jesus Christ is the light of the nations!
More importantly, the first reading tells us that all the nations of the world will come and worship Jesus Christ; even the exiled Jews will come back to worship Jesus Christ! And they will bring with them the riches and wealth of the nations, including gold and incense (frankincense) which symbolize the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah-King and Loving God respectively!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71 (72): 11; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and the fourth stanzas tell us that the Messiah-King will bring justice, especially to the poor!
More importantly, the second stanza tells us that he will bring justice and peace, shalom, well-being, wholeness, salvation! (IBC)
Most importantly, the third stanza tells us that all the nations of the world will come and worship the Lord Jesus Christ! Thus the second verse of the third stanza from which the response is taken:
“Before him all kings shall fall prostrate, all nations shall serve him.” (Ps 71 (72): 11; SM)
The second reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us that salvation is not only for the Jewish Christians, but salvation is also for the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans! Thus we read in the second reading:
“It means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.” (Ep 3: 6; SM)
Today as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, let us worship the Lord, and let us “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” (The New Order of Mass: Dismissal) to all the nations, so that all the nations of the world will come and worship the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messianic King, Loving God, and Suffering Savior! Again, a joyous Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.