Life & Soul Life and Soul

The Word this Week

Adoration of the Magi by Botticelli

The Epiphany of the Lord
Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3 & 5-6; Mt 2:1-12 (Year C)

The celebration of the Epiphany is, in many ways, a joyful meditation on the meaning of Christ’s birth. Luke concluded his account of the Nativity with the observation that “Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.” In like manner, the Epiphany invites us to ponder the glory of the Incarnation, a glory that embraces and gives meaning to all nations and every age.

Such was the tenor of Isaiah’s extravagant invitation to joy: “Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising on you, though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples.”

We understand these words to have been fulfilled in the birth of Christ as the light of the World. Isaiah’s joy, however, could not be contained. It reached far beyond the narrow confines of Bethlehem’s shepherds’ fields. “Lift up your eyes and look round: all are assembling and coming towards you, your sons from far away and daughters being tenderly carried.”

The beauty of these words somehow gathers together and heals the alienation of all generations. Christ’s dawning light becomes history’s clear focus, giving direction and purpose to our lives. The Epiphany reminds us that, although as sinners we continue to experience a night that still covers the earth, we have glimpsed the Light. One glimpse is enough. “At this sight you will grow radiant, your hearts throbbing and full; since the riches of the sea will flow to you; the wealth of the nations come to you.”

Matthew’s infancy narrative, with its story of wise men from the east, encapsulates the universal significance of Christ’s birth. In a sense these wise men represented the restless searching of the human heart. “We saw his star as it rose, and have come to do him homage.”

They had longed for a presence in whose surrender was perfect peace and the end of longing. “They set out, and there in front of them was the star they had seen rising. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage.”

Having glimpsed the light, they returned home, bypassing Herod’s murderous intentions. They were content, knowing that the same Light would greet them at the end of life’s journey.

May that Light bring joy to our hearts, uniting a divided world in the ways of justice and peace.