Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord Year C.
Theme: _Those who follow God’s direction, must surely find Him._
By: Fr. Clem C. Aladi.
GOSPEL: MATHEW 2:1-12
The happy new year my dearest people of God. Today we celebrate the feast of Epiphany. Today equally is the first Sunday of the new year 2019. To God be the glory. We are privileged to be here to worship and adore Christ like the three Magi.
The Greek word Epiphany (επιφάνεια), means appearance or manifestation. First, the angels revealed Jesus to the shepherds. In the Western Church, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ first appearance to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, while in the Eastern Church, the feast is the commemoration of the baptism of Christ where the Father and the Holy Spirit gave combined testimony to Jesus’ identity as Son of God. Later, in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus revealed himself as the promised Messiah, and at Cana Jesus revealed his Divinity by transforming water into wine. These multiple revelations are all suggested by the Feast of the Epiphany.
God takes the initiative of revealing ( manifesting) Himself to man through nature (indirect revelation) as in the case of the magi or through direct supernatural revelation as in the case of the shepherds. In whichever way, God wants to bring man to the knowledge of Himself. *”God’s revelation of His Himself in Christ is the final and definitive revelation. No other public revelation is expected before the final glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ*” CCC. Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. Private revelation recognised by the Church over the centuries does not belong to the deposit of faith nor do they improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation.
God created man and endowed him with faculties capable of comprehending revealed truths. Man, therefore, is capable of assenting to the truths of divine revelation.
Today’s feast narrates God’s revelation of Himself to the gentiles represented by the three Magi. The Magi
were not Kings, but a caste of Persian priests who served Kings by using their skills in interpreting dreams and the movements of the stars. Tradition holds each of them came from a different culture: Melchior was Asian, Balthazar was Persian and Caspar was Ethiopian – thus representing the three races known to the ancient world. They were nature worshippers. God used what they have knowledge of, what they can interpret namely the stars ( for them were astrologers) to lead them to His Son. They worshipped nature before Christ was born and when Christ came, God took them out of that old religion to the new which centres on the worship of his divine son Jesus. Unfortunate in our world are people who still worship nature or idols. Various form of idolatry ( occultic powers) exists in our world and are patronized by even those who call themselves Christians. Our forefathers worshipped various gods, they hadn’t the privilege of embracing Christianity but now Christianity has come and yet many find it difficult to give up the old religion leading to syncretistic religiosity experienced among modern day Christians.
Thanks to God, the visit of these magi bore witness to the fact that God has no favourites and that no religion has a monopoly of God. While we do not condemn any religion as evil, because God reveals himself to them too, while no religion is superior to another, the Christian religion( Catholicism) has the fullness of divine revelation. We Catholics should appreciate and be grateful for what we have.
God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of His only begotten son Jesus who is God and saviour. We need to find Him. We need to welcome him into our lives. Our Christian life is a daily struggle to come to this knowledge of God. *The closer we come to God the closer he comes to us (cf James 4:8) and the better our lives.*
The three Magi were led by the star to Jerusalem but could not locate the exact birthplace of Christ, so they inquired from the household of Herod. It was in the scriptures that the priests and scribes found and informed them of the exact birthplace of Christ- Bethlehem. This helps us to better appreciate the centrality of the word of God in Christian life. We need His word daily to discover the truth about our lives and the meaning behind our daily encounters. God’s word is a roadmap to discovering Him. Little wonder did St. Jerome says *”ignorance of the scripture is ignorance of God”*. In the Bible lies the truth of eternal life. *”Like the Magi, every person has two great ‘books’ which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God Who speaks to us, Who always speaks to us.”* (Pope Francis)
*Mere possession of this truth ( Bible) does not guarantee to find Christ.* Herod had this truth but could not find Christ because he has hatred in his heart. He doesn’t want to welcome the truth of the birth of another king. His throne was more important than the lives of those innocent children murdered because he wants to eliminate the newborn king. When our ambition beclouds our minds and reasoning, when our hearts lack love and compassion, we become Herods who will never find Christ. Not everyone who goes to church will find Christ and make heaven. Heaven is for those whose hearts are pure and open to accept Christ, who live daily in practice of his love. Herod deceitfully asked the three magi to ascertain and relate to him where the child was born. He had some motive other than going to adore Christ. There are many Herods today who go to church not to worship Christ but to cause confusion. Who take advantage of her vulnerable ministers to make money. Who gossip and disrupt the word of God and ministry of the church. Remember if Herod did not succeed you too, is bound to fail. Let’s seek Christ and promote the ministry of the church. The mission of the Church is our mission too because we are the Church. Like the scribes and priests who were indifferent to the birth of Christ don’t be indifferent to God and His church.
Like the Shepherds and the magi, let us adore Christ daily and offer him no longer gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh but our lives in service to humanity, in love for our neighbours and in charity to the poor.
There is so much to be learnt from their going back through another route. They did not go back to Herod because they were instructed not to. We need to take another route in life instead of going back to that route that will hamper our spiritual progress and expose many to danger. This new year calls for a change in direction. Those who encounter Christ does not go back through the route of sin but goes through a different route of grace and safety; the route that leads to salvation. By obeying the instruction from God they did not go back to Herod. You could imagine what could have happened if the magi were disobedient to the instruction not to go back to Herod. Most times our disobedience to the word of God brings evil upon us. Today is the time to listen and obey the word of God and His Church. In prayers, God speaks to us. Live a prayerful life and you will discover that God still speaks in our time.
May we seek and find Christ in this new year. May He lead us to find Him. May we be obedient to His commandments and may this year bring us greater happiness, protection and favours from God. Happy new year.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
Fr. Clem C. Aladi.