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Homilies/Reflections

EPIPHANY: CHRIST OUR GIFT
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sun, 05 Jan 2020

 Readings: Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3,5-6; Mt 2:1-12).

Into these weeks of Christmas gladness, the amazing feast of the Epiphany adds to the spiritual revolution. The Christ-Child manifested as God’s self-gift to the world; his star lights up a new path for humanity.  Arise and shine, for your light has come! Gladden your hearts and be grateful to God this year for life given you. But show it in the way that you care, love and give to the needy.

Already, Christmas shows us Christ himself came as a child, needy and vulnerable. In the little children, especially when we receive them with love into our families, we reclaim Christmas. The feast of the Holy Family, coming on the heels of Christmas day, confirmed this mystery to us. And, today at the Epiphany, the rising star serving as a symbol of God’s revelation guides the way of the wise in seeking the face of Christ. How can we not notice the sheer manifestation of Jesus’ presence in his choice for the simple and the humble people? Today’s Gospel echo, so aptly, that it is the humble, simple and wise who “see” and who “come” to do homage to Christ. Are we wise? Do we seek Christ?

A true knowledge of Jesus does and should break down barriers. The barriers of whatever definition – walls between Jews and Gentiles, and between tongues and tribes. At the same time, a living faith cultivated in Jesus unites people. Such faith challenges the false kin-ships which we base on the ‘haves’ against the ‘have-nots.’ The experience of Jesus challenges one and all to love one another. But above all, Jesus places the onus of this spiritual example as a duty on all those who call upon his name. According to St Paul, this duty is “the grace” God “meant for you” (Eph 3:2).

One of the remarkable highlights of the Epiphany is the paradox of the people chosen by God. Today, as in yesteryears, the people of God have not always been faithful to God. They have had the solemn word of God, and God’s covenant struck with them. The messianic promises proclaimed by the prophets across time have also taken place for and with the people of God. The beacon of light for enlightening the other nations rested on Israel’s hands. Yet, like us today, they drag their feet about God and God’s manifestation in Jesus. The Gospel of today draws on the paradox that even without the Scriptures or the covenant, the Gentiles come through nature seeking and searching for the light of Christ. Their great hopes of finding Christ meant that they came with the most precious of treasured gifts. Gold for his kingship, frankincense for his divine priesthood, and Myrrh for his expiatory self-sacrifice. “We saw his star,” they acclaimed, we “have come to do him homage.” (Mt 2:2).

Never would the antics of any king Herod debar believers. Nor the indifference and failures of the chief priests who knew all about the theology of Bethlehem but still failed to pay any homage to Christ. Whether the Magi were magicians, nature-scientists, or astrologers, the Gospel truth of their seeking journey and their identity as the wise who seek God, stares us on our faces (Mt 2:1). To follow the lead of the truly wise is to make one’s own, the witness of the Church. The witness that Jesus is God’s manifestation in flesh and blood among us. And that, in the person and mission of Jesus, God’s light is showered anew upon all humanity. The emphasis, therefore, is the great future awaiting any person, community, or nation which allows Jesus and the message of Jesus to serve as their guiding light. For, how else may we hymn today’s amazing Psalm: “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you”!

For us Christians, we cannot stop and would not cease in this faith-profession. With forebears of our faith, with the magi of every clime, we will continue to live out Jesus’ incarnation as the ‘appearance’ (Tit 2:11, Greek: ‘ephiphaino’) of God’s grace among us. At the same time, our Christian hope for Christ’s second coming as the ‘manifestation’ (Tit 2:13, ‘epiphaneia’) of God’s final glory is reality already here and now with us. It is ‘mystery now revealed’ in Christ as word-made flesh.

What gifts can we bring to Christ this day? But why worry for these now, when a humble heart, a helping hand, a kind word, and a positive smile and a shoulder to lean upon, are all within us waiting as treasures to share. These treasures come together today to challenge our hearts here and now. They demand our response to the love by which God gave us his only begotten Son. They question us about what we have done and are doing for the least of the brethren. Jesus says, “You did it to me” (Mt 26:40).

 

 

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