Homily for the Solemnity of Epiphany of the Lord
Theme: The manifestation of God
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday January 2 2022
To behold the face of God is the greatest desire of us all and nothing could be a greater achievement than this goal; a face to face contact with our God and Creator whose true face radiates visibly on the face of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. May our earthly sojourn be an onward and progressive preparation for our ultimate encounter with the Most Holy Trinity in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; Amen.
Today is the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word Epiphany is from the Greek epiphaneia which means manifestation or a striking appearance. The Solemnity of Epiphany is also known as Theophany which literally means the appearance of God. In the solemnity of today, we celebrate the manifestation of God to all in Jesus Christ, not just to the Jews but also to the gentiles who are represented in the “Wise Men from the East.” In the visit of the Wise men from the East we realise truly and fully that we all are of the same stalk and that God is our common Father. The manifestation of God to the Magi was the first divine confirmation of Saint Paul’s conviction and declaration that “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:13-14). The Magi were the first from the gentile world to recognise the true identity, the Universal Kingship and the Messianic mission of Jesus Christ. This was symbolised in the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh which they brought with them to Jesus which have traditionally come to signify the Kingship, the divinity and the passion of Christ respectively.
The First Reading (Is 60:1-6) takes us back the memory lane to the prophecy of Isaiah about the contents of the celebrations of these past days and especially about the appearance of God’s glory, not exclusively for Israel as a nation, but for all peoples and for all nations; “Above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears. The nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness.” Saint Paul in the Second Reading (Eph 3:2-3, 5-6) recaptures the purpose of this prophecy and its full realisation in Christ in the sense “that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.” In Christ we all find our common heritage and in Him we all find the true path to our common Homeland. He is the one Road that leads us to our common Father and Creator in heaven and He is the Wisdom incarnate and the true destination of every wise search. These can account for the strong attraction that led the Wise Men in the Gospel Reading (Mt 2:1-12) to Jerusalem and finally to the small town of Bethlehem where the greatest King of kings was born. On the contrary, Herod was unsettled and unnecessarily anxious over the birth of the King, part of whose kingdom he governs and Who is the fount of all kingships including that of Herod.
One of the striking things in the scene of Today’s feast in the Gospel was the star that led the Wise Men to Christ. If a star, the Star of Bethlehem, can lead the Wise Men to the God-Man, how much more we that have encountered Him in faith and are baptised in Him and who are putting on Christ (Gal 3:27). In the Star of Bethlehem, we recognise part of what our identity as Christians is. We are not called only to know Christ, but we must also lead others to the person and content of our knowledge. Our encounter with God must transform us into stars that lead people to God. This implies that our encounter with Christ and our daily living of the Christian virtues make us attractive like the stars of heaven. It is the power of this attraction, which receives its strength from the Christ in us, that transforms us into true missionaries and evangelisers, for it is the wish of God that the knowledge of Him reaches the ends of the world.
May the light of faith in us continue to shine brilliantly like the stars of heaven and through our daily witnessing to the Gospel, may those around us be led, like the Wise Men, to the true Light of the world, Jesus Christ our Lord; Amen. Happy Sunday;
Fr Unachukwu Cyril CCE