The Epiphany of the Lord

First reading: Is. 60:1–6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Second reading: Eph. 3:2–3a,5–6

Brothers and sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Gospel: Mt. 2:1–12

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.

In other words

by Fr. Emil B. Pati, SVD (San Fernando, La Union)

On Christmas day a girl carefully wrapped a gift and gave it to her father who was so delighted with it. But when her father opened the gift, his expression of joy slowly vanished as his face turned red. His wide-round eyes zoomed at the girl who was giggling. “Do you know it is an insult to give somebody a gift that has nothing inside?” the girl’s dad asked. “It wasn’t empty dad, before I wrapped it, I blew a lot of kisses inside and when it was full I wrapped it,” the girl declared. Last Christmas many if not all of us received gifts. I am sure no one received an “empty” gift. One thing is sure, some of us when opening our gifts paid more attention to the “gift” forgetting the thoughtfulness that came along with it.

Many are more concerned with the ‘face-value’ of the presents and make comments like “what a gift” or “is this all?” And how about “recycled” presents? I cannot forget one Christmas gathering for the clergy and religious. As usual everybody was asked to bring a gift for the traditional exchange of gifts. On our way home, I was curious about the gift I received. I shook it, I tried to examine the wrappings, and to my amusement, it was exactly the gift I gave the previous year. What was new was the name tag.

The Scripture Readings in today’s Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany deal with the unwrapping of the greatest gift any human being can receive. The manifestation that God has become human in Jesus Christ the Emmanuel. Isaiah in the First Reading has prophesied about his coming as a “Light” and all nations will come to him bringing with them their gifts of gold and incense. St. Paul in the Second Reading delights in the good news being revealed to all peoples, Jews and Gentiles. In the Gospel, three visitors from the East, St. Matthew the evangelist calls them “Magi,” travelled from distant lands and by following a star found the newborn Messiah to whom they offered their precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In life there are two kinds of people: “givers” and mere “receivers.” The three wise men are givers who were generous to give what they consider most precious treasures. That is the call for all of us. 

Let us be “givers” too like the three Magi. We may not have gold, frankincense and myrrh but we have talents, treasure and time given generously by God. Let our generosity be seen not only during Christmas time but the whole year through. The story of the girl I related earlier challenges us to consider what is most essential in giving, that is LOVE. The real “face-value” of any gift is love, nothing else. Any gift no matter how expensive it may be is empty without love that goes with it.

We must always bear in mind, Christmas is nothing but love. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son here on earth that those who believe in him will have life” (Jn. 3:16). This is all what the Epiphany of the Lord is about.

A blessed Epiphany to all!

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