Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD TO ALL PEOPLES AS MESSIAH-KING, GOD, AND CRUCIFIED SAVIOR
- Isaiah 60:1-6;
- Psalm 71 (72): 1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R. v. 11;
- Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
- Matthew 2:1-12
1. Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning manifestation or revelation. The Epiphany of the Lord is the revelation of the Lord to all peoples as Messiah-King, God and Crucified Savior!
The gospel today tells us that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, some wise men from the East came to do him homage. The “three” wise men symbolize all the nations of the world. All the nations of the world came to do Jesus homage.
But more importantly, the gifts of the wise men symbolize the Lord. The Fathers of the Church like St. Irenaeus who lived in the second century tell us that the three gifts symbolize the Lord as Messiah-King, God, and Crucified Savior! The gift of gold symbolizes the kingship of the Lord. The gift of frankincense symbolizes the divinity of the Lord. And the gift of myrrh which was used for embalmment and burial symbolizes the crucified Savior! (Raas/Lefrois/NJB/NJBC)
Again, an extract from a hymn for Epiphany from the fourth-fifth century reads thus: “Sacred gifts of mystic meaning: Incense doth the God disclose, Gold the King of Kings proclaimeth, Myrrh a future tomb foreshows.” (D.O./Aurelius C. Prudentius 348-c413)
The nations of the world come to worship the Lord because he was not only king, but Messiah-King, not only Messiah-King, but God, not only God, but Crucified Savior!
We have to proclaim the good news to the whole world so that the whole world will come and worship the Lord. We must not proclaim the bad news by moralizing and sermonizing.
2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that all the nations of the world will come and worship the Lord. All the nations of the world will bring with them the wealth of the nations to worship the Lord. And the exiled Jews will also return home! Thus we read in the first reading:
“The nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness. Lift up your eyes and look around: all are assembling and coming towards you, your sons from far away and daughters being tenderly carried. At this sight you will grow radiant, your heart throbbing and full; since the riches of the sea will flow to you; the wealth of the nations come to you; camels in throngs will cover you, and dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; everyone in Sheba will come, bringing gold and incense and singing the praise of the Lord.” (Is 60:3-6)
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that all the nations of the world will come and worship the Lord. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71 (72): 11)
And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm:
“The kings of Tarshish and the sea coasts shall pay him tribute. The kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts. Before him all kings shall fall prostrate, all nations shall serve him.” (Ps 71 (72): 10-11)
The first, second, and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us that the Messiah-King will give justice to the poor. (Ps 71 (72): 1-2. 7-8. 12-13)
4. As in all big feast days, the second reading also follows the theme of the day. The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ is not only for the Jews, but Jesus Christ is for all peoples. That is why we have to proclaim the good news to the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans, and to all peoples! 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 3:5-6)
5. Today in the Eucharist we thank God for revealing Himself to us in his Son Jesus Christ and we ask God to help us to proclaim the good news to the whole world so that the whole world will come and worship the Lord. Amen