Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord
Theme: The Manifestation of the Newborn King
By: Fr. Agustin Mateo, Pastor
St. Rose of Lima Parish, Gaithersburg, MD
Homily for Sunday January 5 2020
The feast of the Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of the newborn Christ as savior of the Jews and gentiles. The word epiphany comes from the Greek word, which means “manifestation.” We associate epiphany especially with the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East. The three magi represent all the peoples of the world. For this reason, the three kings usually are depicted in different races at the nativity scene. This Sunday, we can emphasize the missionary spirit of the Church for all nations and the worship we offer to Jesus as we gather from all nations for the liturgy.
The good news of the birth of Jesus is for all the nations. Jesus would reemphasize this aspect to his apostles after his resurrection – “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Our parish of St. Rose of Lima is the fulfillment of this missionary spirit of the Church because of its diverse people coming from different cultures. Every Sunday, we come as the three magi to offer homage to our savior and we go back announcing this good news to the poor. But we must be aware that Herod is still present in every generation who wants to kill this baby, the king of the Jews. For this reason, Jesus would tell his disciples, “be cunning as serpents and simple as doves” as he sends them out to preach the gospel. He sends us “as sheep among wolves.”
The three kings also offered gold, incense, and myrrh as royal gifts to the child. Today, we would not offer these kinds of gifts to a new baby, but they have a meaning emphasizing who Jesus is. This means that the three kings recognized Jesus as their king, unlike Herod who wants to kill the baby. Gold points to Jesus’ kingship, the incense to his divine sonship, and the myrrh to the mystery of his Passion. The gospel of John 19:39 tells us that, after the death of Jesus, Nicodemus had prepared myrrh for the anointing of Jesus. The royal gifts remind us of the Easter Triduum. The Son of God, the king, will undergo his Passion for the salvation of all humanity. Unlike Herod and many others, the three kings recognized this salvific mission in the newborn Jesus and offered gifts according to Jesus’ mission in the world.
Every time we celebrate the Mass, we represent the magi who come from all walks of life to adore Jesus. If we look around us as we sit in the pews at St. Rose of Lima Parish, we will see peoples from different cultures and languages. The manifestation of the child Jesus to the nations occurs again at Mass where Jesus became flesh for our salvation. We come to adore him as our king, the Son of God, who will undergo his Passion to save us all from the snares of sin and death. This good news must reach out other peoples living in darkness. For this, Jesus sends us to announce this salvation outside of our parish.