Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord
Theme: The Continuous Epiphany
By: Fr Uchendu Simeon
(Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3a,5-6; Mtt 2:1-12)
In traditional African societies as in most cultures of the world, after the marriage of young couples, there is usually a special celebration or time for the unveiling of the young bride (cf Gen 29:20ff). This happens also in politics. Following the ancient times, after elections, the Prime Minister or President-elect is usually announced and formally presented to the people. That is the simplest way to understand the word epiphany.
Epiphany is from the Greek word, epiphaneia, which means, manifestation, striking appearance, to show off. It is, as we know, the day we look at the story of the visit of the wise men from the east to the new born Jesus as told in the gospel of today (Mtt 2). Permit me to say that, the last sentence is true, yet not totally correct. We are not celebrating the finding of the infant Jesus by the men, rather, “the manifestation of the infant Christ to the wise men”. Epiphany implies that it is a Divine Initiative; God made the move, passed the message through the stars, and led the men to his Son, and revealed him to them.
This Divine Initiative is true for every real conversion. In the second reading, St Paul wrote; “God himself revealed the mysterious plan to me” (Eph 3:3). Do we want the church to be a ‘soul-winning’ church? Are there family members who don’t care about God? One major role is to ask God to visit them – prayer (cf Joel 2:28; Ezk 37:1-14; even the story of Monica and Augustine).
Another special thing about today’s celebration is that it is about us. The Wise men were not Jews; they were gentiles, fulfilling Gen 12:3b that says “through you shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed”. By this, the door has been opened for us, access for every willing soul. Christ came for all. It is a manifestation for us, a message of hope. Our theme, “the continuous epiphany” implies that this manifestation is still un-going. To every soul who come seeking him, he does not turn away (cf Jn 6:37)
Looking at this message a bible passage keeps coming to mind. It says; “the whole creation is waiting in hope for the children of God to be made manifest” (Rm 8:19). His manifestation is a challenge to us. You are meant to shine. Epiphany continues in you and through you. “Arise and shine for your light has come (Is 60:1). The world needs to know that you are a Christian, people need to know, for that is how you can influence people. Without this conviction, we’ll keep blaming every other person for the weaknesses of the church. Your concern should be to make the message of the gospel here strong. You are the light of the world (Mtt 5:14-16). You are the star to lead gentile souls to Christ the true Light (Jn 14:6)
What are the things that will help our faith to shine and be seen?
i)True Conviction: An unconvinced Christian is a weak Christian. He can hardly convert another. True conviction inspired the journey of the Magi till the end.
ii) Deep Devotion: Deep devotion flows from true conviction. When they saw him; despite they status; they fell down and worshiped him. If I don’t see a deep devotion in you, why will I join you?
iii) Purposeful Living: This implies allowing that True Conviction to influence and direct life. They had a purpose for their journey, and focused on it. Purposeful living inspires others
iv) Listening to the Word: I don’t mean hearing (Jms 1:22-25). Can you imagine what would have happened if the Magi had gone back to Herod? That is the kind of confusion we cause when we fell to listen, and obey the word of God.
-Fr Uchendu Simeon