HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD YEAR A.
THEME: EPIPHANY: BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST.
BY: Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JANUARY 7 2022.
The liturgical season of Christmas, which began on Christmas Day, concludes today with the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “epiphany” literally means “manifestation.” Epiphany is a celebration of the revelation of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, to the whole world, otherwise known as the “Gentile,” that is, “someone who is not a Jew.”
Saint Paul, for example, refers to himself as “the apostle to the Gentiles” in Romans 11:13. It’s not like he never preached to Jews. After all, it was his practice to preach first in the synagogue, that is, to Jews, when he arrived in a new city (Acts 17:2). The point is that he had been chosen from birth and called by God’s grace to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, that is, to those who are not Jews (Galatians 1:15–16). “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
Our Responsorial Psalm says, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you” (Psalm 72). The visit of the Magi to the Child Jesus and his mother, Mary, is a testimony that the Son of God has come to call both the Jews and Gentiles to the Father in the Holy Spirit. We are all called to worship the Lord.
The Magi are traditionally known as Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar. They were not Jews, and as a result, they traveled for miles from the east to Jerusalem in search of the newborn king. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage” (Matthew 2:2). They even consulted with King Herod, and when they finally saw Jesus and his mother, Mary, “[t]hey prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
If there is one thing to take away from today’s liturgical celebration, especially the visit of the Magi from the east, it is that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Mary, being a Jewish girl, must have been astonished that these pagans or gentile men—the magi—would come to adore her son. How difficult it must have been for the Jews to accept the Gentiles as their brothers and sisters in Christ!
For centuries, the Jews worshiped the one true God, the God of Abraham, while the nations around them worshiped other gods. It must have shocked the Jews to read in the Letter to the Ephesians that “the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
Saint Paul reveals (Ephesians 3:2–3a, 5–6) that the most obvious dividing line, that between Jew and Gentile, is no longer a dividing line in Christ. The Son of God became the Son of Man in order to make everyone a child of God. This implies that both Jews and Gentiles are children of the one true God. Everyone is invited to the same table to eat the same bread, drink from the same cup, and worship the same Lord.
Today, however, we continue to face real and imagined lines of division: the socio-political line dividing the liberal, progressive, and conservative; the lines that divide and exclude people from each other; the line between the rich and the poor; the line dividing rich and powerful countries with the poor and the so-called developing, underdeveloped, third world countries; the line between the intellectually sophisticated and theologically naive; the line dividing Christians and other religions; the line dividing Christians into different denominations and confessions; the line between Catholics and other Christians who aren’t yet in full communion with the Catholic Church; among other divisions.
With regard to other religions, “[t]he Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men” (Nostra Aetate, 2). Let us remember that regardless of who we are, our religious affiliation, country, language, financial status, or skin color, God became incarnate in his Son to reconcile both Jews and Gentiles to himself. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Epiphany of the Lord is a revelation that Jesus came to remove the line and reconcile those who were once opposed. The words of St. Robert Bellarmine show how important it is that the Church celebrated the Magi, who followed the stars and paid homage to the newborn king.
St. Robert Bellarmine says, “People to whom the Gospel has not yet been preached can know through creatures that God exists, and then can be moved by God’s prevenient grace to believe that God exists and rewards those who seek him, and from such faith they can be further led to God directing them and helping them, to prayer and works of charity, and in this way they can obtain, through prayer, a greater light of faith.”
Epiphany is a reminder that in Jesus, salvation is open to all. The message of Epiphany is inclusion. And on this final Sunday of the Christmas season, we are humbly reminded that we are all God’s children, and God desires to reveal his Son to all. Happy Sunday!
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