Homily for the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

Year A  -  Mt. 2:1-12


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, «Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.»

"When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, «In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: "And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel." (Michea 5:1)»  Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, «Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.»

"When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way."



Homily:


"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, «Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.»"

In many countries, the Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated on the Sunday that follows the first day of the year.  This initiative thus permits believers to participate in the celebration of this feast, which would otherwise take place on a weekday, usually.  It is all in all a happy initiative, since Sunday is the day of the Lord par excellence, the day which was formerly consecrated to the Sun, the star which God created to rule the day:  "God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night." (Gn. 1:16)

The sun became the sign of Christ, who is the Light come into this world in order to illuminate the nations:  "The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world." (John 1:9)  It was not the sun that guided the wise men toward Jerusalem and toward Bethlehem, because Christ had not yet been born, and so it was not suitable for him to be designated by the sun.  It was in fact another star, a star similar to all those which men grouped together into constellations and which are at the origin of their astrological predictions.  Thus, God wanted the star that guided the wise men to be the sign of the new times, the times of God, which are not the times which men would have predicted.

"When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, «In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: "And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel." (Micah 5:2)»"

God foresaw all things!  He created the stars so that, one day, one of them would guide the wise men to the place where His Son was to be born, and He also inspired the prophets to announce to everyone the birthplace of the Savior of mankind!  So Micah announced that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, and according to the prophecies of Daniel, it was known that the time of the Messiah’s coming was near.  But while the Holy Scriptures were addressed directly to the Jews, the star that guided the wise men was a sign for all nations!  It was truly the sign of the new times, with all the men and women of the earth now being called to belong to the people whom God has chosen!  The new Israel is born!

"Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, «Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.»"

We know the perfidy of Herod:  he wanted to use the wise men to help him to find the child Jesus and kill him!  But, though Jesus was to die one day, betrayed by his own people, his hour had not yet come:  the star that guided the wise men was not yet denoting the time of the Savior’s death.  This star was the ‘good star’ of Christ, the one that brought him glory and recognition from all nations.  Certainly, this glory was not complete, far from it.  But what was important to the Lord was the sincerity of heart which these wise men had and which they demonstrated to him through their respectful presence.

"When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him."

Everything on earth, everything in our life must lead us to worship the Lord of universe!  The sun, which God gives us to illuminate and warm us, must serve us in our praise of the Lord and in our adoration of him.  The star that guided the wise men also helped them to adore God:  "Going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him."  The sun which we see every day, and notably on Sunday, is the sign that reminds us that Christ is the Light come into this world!  The star that guided the wise men proclaimed to them that the Lord was going to come into this world to illuminate it through his Word!

The sun is a reminder, the star of the wise men was a proclamation . . .  It is in this spirit that we celebrate the Mass every day:  it reminds us of the coming of the Lord, and it proclaims to us his return in the end times!  May Mary help us to remember her Son and to await his coming deep in our heart!


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