Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD, WHO IS KING, GOD, AND SAVIOR TO ALL THE NATIONS
- Isaiah 60:1-6
- Psalm 71:1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R. v. 11
- Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
- Matthew 2:1-12
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the epiphany of the Lord! The word “epiphany” is from a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “revelation”. Today we celebrate the manifestation or revelation of the Lord not only to the Jews but also to all the nations and races of the world! The wise men in today’s gospel reading represent all the non-Jews or gentiles! Today we celebrate the revelation of a King, a God, and a Savior to all peoples! A King of kings who will govern all peoples and nations with justice and peace! A God who creates and sustains the universe out of nothing but love! A Savior who died for our sins and became the bread of eternal life for all of us!
These 3 manifestations of King, God and Savior are symbolized in the 3 gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh! The Church Fathers as early as St. Irenaeus who lived around 130 to 200 A. D. saw the gift of gold as a symbol of Christ’s kingship, frankincense (an incense used for sacrifice) as a symbol of Christ’s Divinity, and myrrh as a symbol of his death and burial! Myrrh is a spice used for embalming the dead!
In the “Prayer over the Gifts” today, we pray: “Lord, accept the offerings of your Church, not gold, frankincense and myrrh, but the sacrifice and food they symbolize: Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever and ever”! In other words, the gold, frankincense and myrrh symbolize Jesus Christ who is sacrifice and food for us in the Eucharist!
What revelation! What manifestation! What epiphany! That is why this revelation is for all the nations of the world! That is why this revelation is for everybody! Everybody needs a God-King to govern him or her with justice and peace! Everybody needs a God who gives and sustains life! And everybody needs a God who is love, mercy and forgiveness, a God who saves!
And that is why all the nations and peoples of the world come to him! All the peoples are attracted by his love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, etc.! He seduces us by his love, attracts us by his mercy, persuades us by his forgiveness, etc.! He does not coerce us with his power, force us with his laws and regulations, and punish us with his vengeance!
Again, that is why the whole world is attracted to him, as ants are attracted to honey! A tradition has it that the wise men represent the whole world of their time, that is, the black wise man represents Africa, the yellow wise man represents Asia, and the white wise man represents Europe!
The first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us that the glory of the Lord will shine over Jerusalem and all the Jews living outside Palestine after the Exile will return to Jerusalem, and more than that, the prophet Isaiah tells us that not only the Jews will return to Jerusalem, but all the nations of the earth will come to Jerusalem, attracted by the light that shines over Jerusalem! And the peoples and nations that come to Jerusalem will bring along their riches and wealth to Jerusalem to build up Jerusalem! They will praise the Lord in Jerusalem! Again, Epiphany! All the peoples, nations, and races of the world are attracted to the manifestation and revelation of the Lord in Jerusalem!
The responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading! That is why in the response of the responsorial psalm we respond by saying “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord”!
The responsorial psalm tells us that the messianic King, the God-King, will rule with justice! He will give justice to the poor! There will be justice and peace without end! He will rule over the whole world! All the nations of the earth will pay him tribute and bring him gifts! All the nations of the earth will prostrate before him and serve him! He shall save the poor when they cry and save the helpless! He shall have pity on the weak and save the poor!
Again, the revelation of the messianic King, who is love, mercy, justice, peace, salvation, etc., will attract all the nations of the earth to come and worship Him!
Again, the Church has chosen the second reading taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians to tell us that the revelation of the Lord is not only for the Jews but it is also for the non-Jews, that is, the gentiles and the pagans as well!
In the second reading, Paul tells us that the “mystery” revealed to him is that not only the Jews have the right to the “inheritance”, but that all humankind share in the same “inheritance”!
This second reading is taken from the section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which concerns the “World Mission of the Church” (3:1-4:24)!
Today we celebrate the solemnity of “the Epiphany of the Lord” in the Eucharist! In the Eucharist we celebrate his death, resurrection, and ascension, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and we receive his Holy Spirit! And at the end of the Mass (The word “Mass” comes from a Latin word meaning “Mission”!) we are sent on a mission to proclaim the Good News of “the Epiphany of the Lord” to the whole wide world!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.