Theme: THE JOURNEY TO STARDOM (From Sorcerers to Wise Men)
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday January 2 2022
R1 – Is 60:1-6
RESP PS – Ps 72:1-2,7-8,10-13
R2 – Eph 3:2-3,5-6
GOSPEL – Mtt 2:1-12
A story was told about Ebrahim Ibn Adam, the king of Balkh. He was much wealthy according to earthly measures. At the same time, however, he sincerely and restlessly strove to be wealthy spiritually. One night, the king was roused from sleep by a fearful stumping on the roof above his head. Alarmed, he shouted: “who is there? “A friend” came the reply from the roof. “I have lost my Camel” Perturbed by such stupidity of looking for a lost sheep ontop of his masion, Ebrahim screamed: “You fool! Are you looking for a camel on the roof?” “You fool!” the voice from the roof answered. “Are you looking for God in silk clothing, and lying on a golden bed?”
Beloved in Christ, today is the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany is from the Greek
“επιφάνεια” which means “manifestation or appearance.” In the western church, the Solemnity of Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ first appearance to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, while in the Eastern Church, the Solemnity is the commemoration of the Baptism of Christ where the Holy Spirit gave combined testimony to Jesus’ identity as Son of God.
There are multiple revelations that are suggested by the Solemnity of Epiphany. They include:
(a) The angels revealed Jesus to the Shepherd (Lk 2:8-18).
(b) The star revealed him to the Magi, who had already received hints of Him from the Jewish scriptures (Matt 2:1-11).
(c) God the Father revealed Jesus’ identity to Israel at His baptism in the Jordan (Mk 1:10-11).
(d) In the Synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus revealed Himself as the promised Messiah (Lk 2:46-47).
(e) Jesus revealed Himself as a miracle worker at the wedding of Cana, thus revealing His Divinity (Jn 2:1-11).
The Solemnity of Epiphany, for St Paul in the second reading, is the appearance of Jesus to all peoples, preeminently, the Gentiles, that the pagans now share in the same inheritance.
In the Gospel reading, Mathew gives account of the visit of the Magi (Greek Magoi – sorcerers) from the East, whose heroic gestures merited being addressed as “wise men” by the author of the fourth Gospel.
They came, bringing with them gold, the gift bestowed on kings; frankincense, used to worship at the altar of God; and myrrh, used to prepare the dead body for embalming after death.
The camel on the roof of the introit story raises the Epiphany question, ” _Where are you looking for God?_ ” ” _Where have you found God?”_
The Epiphany story is summarily a journey from:
•Godlessness to Godliness
•Anonymity to prominence
•Ignominy to greatness
•Sinfulness to ?sainthood
•Foolishness to wisdom
•Darkness to light, etc.
*THE JOURNEY TO STARDOM REQUIRES “A LEAVE” FROM OUR COMFORT ZONES*
Every journey to stardom and greatness begins with a LEAVE from one’s comfort zone; which can be a leave from sin, imorality, old way of life, change of mindset, leaving a partner in immorality and sin; that is usually accompanied by Divine encounter and promotion, that changes the story from nobody to somebody, nothing to something, zero to hero, as we see in the life changing experiences of the following:
~ God requested Abraham to leave his ancestral home, a place of idol worship for Divine encounter on his road to stardom. (Gen 12:1-2).
~ Jacob only experienced God’s presence in his life the first time he took a leave out of his father’s house (Gen 28:11-22)
~ Not until Moses took a leave out of Egypt, he never experienced Divine illumination at the burning bush (Ex 2:15; 3:1-2).
~ Joseph’s star was Divinely designated to shine in a distant country
~Ruth’s rise to prominence was orchestrated by the Leave she took out of Moab (Ruth 1:16).
This is exactly what we see in the Gospel reading. Ordinary Magi “sorcerers,” who are familiar with reading and interpreting of the sun were turned into wise men and celebrities of a time.
*_LIFE MESSAGES – STEPS TO STARDOM*_
Every journey to greatness and stardom begins by desire, just as heaven begins by desire. No one has the monopoly of God, as we can see in Jesus’ appearance to the Gentiles. It takes just desire inorder to fellowship and commune with God.
Desiring God simply means, “following our stars,” which definitely brings Divine promotion and realisation of our dreams this New Year.
Desire is derived from the Latin “dēsīderō” (“to long for, feel the want of lack of, miss, regret”), apparently from de- + sidus (in the phrase de sidere, “from the stars”) in connection with astrological hopes.
The three wise men followed the “de sidere” (star), that is, the feelings of the lack of God in their lives as pagans, and ended up in STARDOM. Just locate your star (desire) today, like these great men from the East and follow it to greatness. Only remnants and a few left overs are the portion of those who desire not. Desire Jesus today and place Him at the centre of all your undertakings this fresh year
*(2) BE MINDFUL OF PEOPLE YOU MEET ON YOUR WAY TO STARDOM*
There are over three groups of people who reacted to the Epiphany of Christ’s birth, viz:
~ HERODS (Destiny Destroyers).
~ PRIESTS & SCRIBES (Detractors & Calumniators).
~ SHEPHERDS & MAGI (Admirers and Adorers).
*(i) THE HERODS* (Destiny Destroyers)
These are the most dangerous set of people you meet in life. Once they come around you, the star in you will disappear. You can experience them as diabolical men and women, who could vow with their lives that over their dead bodies will you rise to stardom. You can as well experience them as Male or female friends, like Delilah who lure you into sin to drench your spiritual energies. Beware!
*(ii) PRIESTS AND SCRIBES* (Detractors and Calumniators)
These are a set of colleagues, friend and kinsmen, who never believed in you and can never believe in your abilities. They suffer inferiority complex and feel intimidated by your presence or exploits. Beware!
*(iii) SHEPHERDS AND MAGI* (Adorers – Admirers)
These are the people who know your worth and value your presence. They celebrate, admire and adore God’s Epiphany in you. They are destiny propellers and helpers. A good example is Jonathan, whose presence preserved and facilitated David’s journey to stardom, greatness and prominence as a king.
*(3) FOCUSING ON 3 S’ (See, Search & Submit).*
The common denominator that differentiates success and failure is FOCUS. In our journey to STARDOM, only the focused few, emerge victorious and reach their destination. This is evident in the journey of the Magi. They remained focused on what Bishop Socrates Villegas in his, _Love Like Jesus,_ called the Three S of this Solemnity of Epiphany.
The first S is, to _See_ . The wise men saw the star and they followed. God tells us not to see with our physical eyes but to see with our hearts because God is in our hearts, His favorite place within us.
The second S is _Search_ . The wise men were searching for Christ. They wanted to find the meaning of life and they found it in Christ and in living for others. Like we see in the introit story, “Are you still in your comfort zone searching for him? “Where have you found him?”
The last S is _Submit_ or to obey. The wise men did this once they found Jesus and offered to Him the best of everything. Let us submit to His will and authority because His will and authority are the best for us.
Finally, a new Magi story was told of the three wise men who were three different stages. Gaspar was a young man, Balthazar, a middle-aged man and Melchoir, an elderly man. They found a cave where the Holy One was and do him homage one at a time. Melchoir the old man entered first. He found an old man like him in the cave. They shared stories and spoke of memory and gratitude. Middle-aged Balthazar entered next. He found a man of his age on the cave. They spoke passionately about leadership and responsibility. Young Gasper was the last to enter. He found a young prophet waiting for him. They spoke about reforms and promise. Afterwards, when the three kings spoke about their encounter with the Christ, they were shocked at each other’s stories. So, they got their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh together and all the three went into the cave. They found a baby there, the child Jesus only twelve days old. What a surprise!
Beloved, Jesus reveals Himself to all people, at all stages of their lives, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Like the three wise men, let us SEE, SEARCH and SUBMIT all to Jesus and surely we will find what we have been looking for all these years in our journey to STARDOM.
MAY GOD HELP US TO STAY FOCUSED IN OUR JOURNEY TO STARDOM; SO THAT, AT THE END OF OUR EARTHLY SOJOURN, WE, LIKE THE THREE WISE MEN, JOIN THE ANGELIC CHOIRS, TWENTY FOUR ELDERS AND FOUR LIVING CREATURES TO ADORE AND WORSHIP HIM IN THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN.
*HAPPY SUNDAY AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!*
FR GERALD MUOKA