THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
(White) Cycle A/Year I (Jan. 8, 2017)
Is 60:1-6/Eph 3:2, 5-6/Mt 2:1-12
After the three astronauts of Apollo 11 arrived safely on earth, they visited 23 countries in 45 days. One of the most striking and stirring moments of the trip, said Astronaut Ed Aldrin, was the visit to the Vatican. Pope Paul VI gave them porcelain statues of the three wise men. The Pope said that these three wise men were directed to the infant Christ by looking at the stars and that the three astronauts also reached their destination by looking at the stars.
The magi that visited the infant Jesus in Bethlehem came from the east. They were known as kings simply because of the biblical text that says: “The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents; the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring him gifts: and all the kings of the earth shall adore him” (Psalm 72:10). But there is no evidence that they were indeed kings. They were also known as wise men and this is because the magi were learned astronomers and astrologers. There is no precise number of the magi in the gospel but tradition puts it into three because of the gifts mentioned in the gospel: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The three gifts given by the magi to the infant Jesus are symbolical of the identity and mission of Jesus. The gold represents kingship because by tradition, the gold is the proper gift that befits the dignity of a king. Jesus Christ then is a King. The frankincense represents deity since it is used to incense the altar of a god. Jesus Christ then is a God. The myrrh represents death because it is used as an embalming ointment for the dead. This foretells about the coming death of Jesus for the salvation of humanity.
The magi later named as Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar used their knowledge on reading the signs of the stars and through the star they were led right at the exact location of the Messiah in Bethlehem. They worshiped the infant Jesus and offered Him their gifts. They then returned home using another way. With this event, the magi are guiding us on how to encounter the Savior. We need to use all that is within our grasp, knowledge, power and resources and then follow the guidance of the star in order to encounter Jesus. In these modern times, the star can be the Church herself founded by Jesus. The Catholic Church guides us through her teachings on how to encounter Jesus in our lives.
This Christmas season, the good news is that Jesus Christ is born into our lives. We do not need to search for Him in different places. We simply have to communicate with Him through prayers and the Holy Eucharist and we will discover how He dwells in us as He grants us new life. Like the magi who used different way after encountering Jesus, we too must change our lives and lifestyles after encountering Jesus. We must do away with our old sinful life and live the new life that Jesus has given us. This life that we possess is the very life of Jesus who is the Son of God. With this new life we have become children of God and have the right and the courage to say: “Our Father in Heaven.”