On January 6th, Solemnity of the Epiphany, we celebrate God’s revelation of Himself, manifested in Jesus Christ, to the whole world. On this feast we usually think first of the Magi who came to adore the newborn King, and most of the cultural customs surrounding this celebration focus on the giving of gifts. However, the main actor in this event is the Lord: God who reveals Himself as the FirstBorn of the Virgin, and God who gives a star, a guiding light, so those who would seek Him could find Him, even if they weren’t of the Line of David. To put it bluntly: God wanted to make sure the whole world, not just the Jews, but the Gentiles too, could seek and find Him. God wants to be found by the rich and the poor, the near and the far, the native and the foreigner, the powerful and the outcast. This feast celebrates that God has shed His Light on the whole world; He has given His very Self, to EVERYONE.
Even so, it is for us to seek and to find Him, Emmanuel, The-Lord-is-with-us.
In more recent years, my favorite part of this story is when the Magi learn in a dream to avoid King Herod, and so “they went home by another route.” You can read the whole passage as told by Saint Matthew, translated by New International Version, presented on-line by Bible Gateway in the boxed quote below this paragraph. What I like about this business of “another route” is that often times I too need to “go by another route” after an intimate encounter with Jesus. When the Lord reveals Himself to me, whether it be in prayer, while reading Scripture, in receiving the Eucharist, in suffering, in serving, in play, in whatever way He chooses, I find it is no longer possible to see the world or myself the same way as before. What I cherish most particularly these days is that every route, however new, is even-so, journeying Home, as long as I am journeying with Jesus.
Matthew 2:1-12New International Version (NIV)
The Magi Visit the Messiah
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Quote of Note
“Even in the darkest night, the smallest star can shine.”