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THE MANIFESTATION OF THE LIGHT OF CHRIST: A reflection for the feast of Epiphany 2018
By Fr. Donatus Okeke
Tue, 09 Jan 2018

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Today, we celebrate the manifestation of the light of Christ to the whole world. The traditional date for this celebration is January 6 (which is 12days after Christmas). However, in some countries (like Nigeria), it is held on Sunday after January 1.
Epiphany is from the Greek word "Epiphaneia" - manifestation or appearance. Epiphany occurs when someone suddenly becomes conscious of an important event. In Christianity, Epiphany is the manifestation/revelation of God incarnate - Jesus Christ, to the gentiles, which is reflected in the visit of the wise men from the East. In early times of the Church, Epiphany was celebrated together with Christmas.
The readings of today, makes clearer today's celebration. Prophet Isaiah in the First Reading gives the prophecy concerning the light, the glory of the Lord, that will cover all the earth. In the Second Reading, St. Paul tells us of God's salvation which was given to all (Jews and Gentiles). The Gospel records the account of the visit of the wise men from the East, who were guided by the star to Jesus the new born king.
Between the wise men (Magi) and Herod are two personalities. In these two, there are some contrasting-similarities. From these, we draw lessons for today's celebration.
1. In the first place, they both had the same ambition - seeking for the new born king. However, their intention were different. While the wise men had a positive intention -to pay homage to the king, Herod had an evil intention to kill. The wise men were seeking Jesus to find new meaning to life. They were not seeking for a sign from God but God himself.
*Let us ask ourselves: what are we searching for? Why do we seek Jesus? Is it just for miracles? or riches, or fame, or healing? Have we come to adore Jesus?
2. Research confirms that the magi were gentiles of high position (some authors regarded them as kings), who were influential. Herod was equally an influential king. In today's Gospel, the wise men displayed character of those who were not intoxicated with power. In Herod we see the opposite. Herod does not want any opposition. (history tells us that he even killed his wife, mother in-law and sons just because of suspected treason).
* Let us ask ourselves: are we so much interested in power? This is killing our politics, soceity even the Church. Every one wants to be in charge.
*We must equally learn how to give the other opportunities to excel.
3. Let us consider the reactions of these two personalities. For the wise men, it was swift movement of joy, adoration, generosity. For Herod, it was hostility, jealously, wickedness.
* Let us ask ourselves: How often are we sad because of the progress of the other? Do we rejoice with those rejoicing and cry with those crying? We need to eschew all forms of jealousy and hatred in us.
4. While the wise men served as a bridge that enabled the light of Christ to shine forth, Herod presented himself as a barrier. Herod wanted to quench this light.
*Let us ask ourselves: how often have we blocked the light of Christ from shining? Do we attack the progress of the Church community in our area? Can we be stars for others? How often have we destroyed the good name of our neighbor, just to make sure his light does not shine?
5. In the wise men, we see sincerity but, in Herod, we see insincerity. The Magi were known for their truthfulness, goodness and holiness. For Herod, while he was saying something, he meant another thing. The external and internal were not the same.
Let us ask ourselves again: Are we sincere? Can our yes be yes, and our no be no? Let what we say, reflect what we have in mind.
It is important to note that today's celebration is equally characterized with exchange of gifts. The wise men have kicked off this kind gesture. As Christians, we are to follow. We are to reach out to the poor ones in our neighborhood.
The wise men departed from another road and did not return to Herod. This is symbolic. No body encounters Jesus and goes back to Herod. The road of Herod leads to destruction, darkness, envy, pride, worship of self. The new road leads to humility and acknowledging others. In this new year 2018, let us go through the New Road and never go back to Herod.
Beloved in Christ, the light of Christ has been manifested to all of us. Let us become stars for others.
May God help us!!!


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