“Epiphany” means manifestation. And the “Epiphany of the Lord” is Jesus’ manifestation not only to these three Magi from the East, but it’s also a symbolic but real manifestation of the Christ to the whole world. These Magi, traveling from a foreign and non-Jewish nation, reveal that Jesus came for all people and all are called to adore Him.
These Magi were “wise men” who studied the stars and were aware of the Jewish belief that a Messiah was coming. They would have been versed in much of the wisdom of the day and would have been intrigued by the Jewish belief in the Messiah.
God used what they were familiar with to call them to adore the Christ. He used a star. They understood the stars and when they saw this new and unique star over Bethlehem they realized that something special was happening. So the first lesson we take from this for our own lives is that God will use what is familiar to us to call us to Himself. Look for the “star” that God is using to call you. It’s closer than you may think.
A second thing to note is that the Magi fell prostrate before the Christ Child. They laid their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration. They set a perfect example for us. If these astrologers from a foreign land could come and adore Christ in such a profound way, we must do the same. Perhaps you could try literally lying down prostrate in prayer this day, in imitation of the Magi, or at least do so in your heart through prayer. Adore Him with a complete surrender of your life.
Lastly, the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These three gifts, presented to our Lord, show that they acknowledged this Child as the Divine King who would die to save us from sin. Gold is for a King, frankincense is a burnt offering to God, and myrrh is used for one who would die. Thus, their adoration is grounded in the truths of who this Child is. If we are to adore Christ properly, we must also honor Him in this threefold way.
Reflect, today, upon these Magi and see them as a symbol of what you are called to do. You are called from the foreign place of this world to seek out the Messiah. What is God using to call you to Himself? When you discover Him, do not hesitate to acknowledge the full truth of who He is, lying prostrate before Him in complete and humble submission.
The epiphany of the Lord is actualized in every celebration of the Eucharist. Jesus reveals himself and identifies himself as the bread of life. One could not imagine a more powerful sacrament or symbol to reveal that the ultimate meaning of Jesus is to give himself to us in love. Bread has no meaning by existing for itself. Bread exists in order to give life to those who receive it as food. The prayer after communion for the Mass of Epiphany expresses this mystery of faith: “Help us to recognize Christ in this Eucharist and welcome him with love.”
Lord, I love You and adore You. I lay my life before You and surrender all. You are my Divine King and Savior. My life is Yours. (Pray three times and then prostrate yourself before the Lord) Jesus, I trust in You.
Fr. A. Francis HGN