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THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

When the Magi returned home – much to everybody’s surprise – they were probably ridiculed. After all, what did they find in Herod’s land? A child and his mother? Was that their big discovery? Were there no children and mothers in their own country? How crazy can you get?

Nonetheless, to a person with the eyes of faith, the Magi had discovered an immense secret. They found not only the secret of the star, but the secret of the whole universe – the secret of God’s incredible love for His people. For the child they found was no ordinary child but the very Son of God became man.

And what they brought back from their adventure was not material wealth, or art treasures or scientific technology, but the light, joy and peace that only God can give.

Prayer: On this day, Lord God, by a guding star You revealed Your Only-begotten Son to all the peoples of the world. Lead us from the faith by which we know You now to the vision of Your glory, face to face. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jakarta, 7 January 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

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Posted by on January 7, 2018 in READ & PRAY

 

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THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD [SOLEMNITY]: WE HAVE COME TO PAY HIM HOMAGE – MATTHEW 2:1-12

Jakarta, 7 January 2018

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Posted by on January 7, 2018 in MISCELLANY

 

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THE DAY WHEN WE CELEBRATE THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE GENTILES

THE DAY WHEN WE CELEBRATE THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE GENTILES

(A biblical reflection on THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD, Sunday, 7 January 2018)

Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12 

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalms: Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,10-13; Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6 

The Scripture Text

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.’”

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. (Matthew 2:1-12 RSV)  

Today is Epiphany Sunday, the day when we celebrate the revelation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. Matthew tells us that wise men “from the East” came to Israel looking for “the child who has born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-2). When they finally found Him, they “offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). What unusual presents to bring to a little baby!

Throughout the ages, many spiritual writers have reflected on the meaning of these gifts. St. Bede the Venerable [672/3-735] taught that gold, because it was so valuable, signified kingship. Frankincense, which was burned in the shrines of numerous deities, represented divinity. And myrrh, a spicy resin used for embalming the dead, was meant to point to Jesus Passion. Similarly, Saint Irenaeus [130-202], one of the Church Fathers, understood the gifts to reflect different aspects of Jesus’ incarnation: gold for a king, frankincense for a high priest, myrrh for a sacrificial victim.

Much more recently, Saint Edith Stein [1891-1942] offered another interpretation of the three gifts. She equated gold with obedience, myrrh with death to self, and frankincense with the purity of our devotion to Him.

These are all fascinating interpretations, and they all can give us much to think about and meditate on. But each in its own way, these three approaches ask us the same question: How far will we go to meet Jesus? What gifts are willing to offer to the Lord? The gifts that the Magi offered were all costly. Evidently, they were willing to pay a high price because they sensed that something special had happened in Bethlehem. They were willing not only to give away precious materials but also to take a long, dangerous journey over the desert to meet and worship this new king. They considered the sacrifice to be worthy because of the hope and promise they found in Jesus.

Bede, Irenaeus, and Edith Stein all felt a connection with the Magi because like these ancient seers, they too had been captivated by Jesus and wanted to give Him their whole lives. Like all those who have gone before us, may the revelation of Christ in our hearts compel us to lay down our lives before Him in worship and adoration.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I come to You as an open vessel. Shine Your light upon my life and guide me closer to You. Amen.

Jakarta, 4 January 2018 [Memoria: St. Angela of Foligno, Franciscan Tertiary] 

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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THE MANIFESTATION TO THE GENTILES

THE MANIFESTATION TO THE GENTILES

(A biblical refection on THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD, Sunday, 4 January 2015)

Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12 

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalms: Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,10-13; Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6 

Adoration_of_the_Magi_Tapestry

The Scripture Text

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.’”

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. (Matthew 2:1-12 RSV)  

wiseToday’s feast, also known as “the Manifestation to the Gentiles” celebrates the call of Gentiles, or non-Israelites, to salvation. Many first-century Jews were eagerly awaiting a Messiah who would deliver them from foreign oppression and reestablish Israel as God’s dwelling place. But Jesus did not come to deliver His people from political bondage. He came to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). In Jesus, the Father set out to create one universal Church encompassing men and women of every nation.

This is where the magi come in, the first Gentiles to whom Jesus was made manifest. They came seeking the “king of the Jews”, but found the King of the universe instead!

And who were these magi? They probably were not kings, but astrologers – similar to today’s New Agers and zodiac readers. These “wise men” were wise in that they were searching for truth and undertook a long and arduous journey just to find it. And when they found Jesus, who is truth incarnate, they bowed down in worship – the surest sign of wisdom.

Just as Jesus at His birth drew wise men from afar, so today He draws people of all backgrounds to Himself. People all over the world, whether consciously or unconsciously, are searching for the truth and life found in Jesus. There is not one person, no matter how far from the truth they seem, to whom Jesus does not want to manifest His presence and love.

Let’s commit ourselves to praying that people of every religious and cultural background come to know salvation and the fullness of life that God offers them through Jesus. Let’s pray for those who are sincerely seeking the truth, especially those who seem to be looking in the wrong places. Let’s ask God for the wisdom to recognize those people with whom He wants us to share His light and love. As Saint John Paul II once encouraged, let us be like that star that guides others to the light of Christ, “so that individuals and peoples in search of truth, justice, and peace may come to Jesus, the one Savior of the world”. 

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for revealing that Your plan of salvation is meant for everyone, including myself. Help all those who are searching for You to find the light of truth in Your Son Jesus. Amen.

Jakarta, 1 January 2015 [Mary, Mother of God] 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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