Epiphany of the Lord
Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3 & 5-6; Mt 2:1-12 (year a)
‘Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come. Above you the Lord now rises, and above you his glory appears. The nations come to your light, and kings to your dawning brightness.”
The Gospel narratives surround the birth of our Saviour with a wealth of domestic detail, thereby underlining a new and intimate communion between God and humanity.
Matthew’s account of the Wise Men who had travelled from afar to worship the newborn King emphasises the global significance of his birth. Christ’s birth brings light to the darkness of every people in every generation. In the words of St Paul, Christ is the revelation of the Father’s will that all peoples, regardless of nationality or culture, should share the same inheritance and promise; that they should, in Christ, become parts of the same body.
As we begin a New Year, many fear the forces that seem to be driving us apart. Violence, both in the Middle East and our European cities, threatens an increasingly fragile unity. The uncertainty of future trade arrangements, and with it future employment, undermines the security of many families. The divisions between rich and poor appear to be gaining ground.
Matthew’s account of the Wise Men represents many of the divisions that continue to afflict our own world. They had come from afar, and, as such, were outsiders. Herod’s interest in them, fed by his own greed and insecurity, was to use them to serve his own ends. He had little interest in the heart-searching that had brought them thus far, and even less interest in the enlightenment that they sought.
In humility, they presented themselves, and their gifts, to the Light that had guided them thus far.
We cannot change the world overnight. What we can do is turn from the darkness that we harbour in our hearts. We can seek Christ’s light, however dim, within ourselves and those around us.
We can welcome the stranger and illuminate, in our own way, the path to healing and peace. Such could become the abiding significance of that star whose light so delighted those who had travelled as strangers.
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