Homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, Cycle B–2018

FIRST READING            Isaiah 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.  Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.  Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you:  your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.  Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.  Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.

SECOND READING                  Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:  You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.  It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:  that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

GOSPEL                Matthew 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”  When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:  And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”  Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child.  When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”  After their audience with the king they set out.  And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.  They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.  They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

My sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,

God has sent us His Son, Jesus Christ.  The Son is given for all of us, not just for a chosen group—for all of us.  So we chant in the Christmas Season:  Christ is born for us!  At the time of Epiphany:  Christ has appeared to us.  Christ is for all even as Christ is also for me personally.  The challenge is to see God in the many ways in which God appears and to reflect God in all that I do.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah.  This Prophet tells us:  “Upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.  Nations shall walk by your light…”  This words are written about Israel but apply to every nation and group of people because the Lord loves us all.  Even this great Prophet Isaiah could not convince everyone that God would act and that God would be present.  The challenge for us is personal belief and also belief as a Church and a community.  If we believe, that our lives begin to reflect that light of His glory and gives witness to the loving presence of our God.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Ephesians.  Saint Paul, a devout Jew, tells us how he became aware that God’s love was for even the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people.  God’s love is for everyone.  The challenge for us today is to recognize that God’s love is for all peoples, and especially for those peoples and nations and persons who seem most impossible to accept.  God wants us all and God is working in all, even when we cannot see it.  Once we begin to accept that God is present in all, we will find that speaking of the Lord is not so difficult after all.  Instead, we might find that we naturally speak of God to others and that our own love and faithfulness could draw others to God and to our Lord Jesus.

The Gospel today is the story of the Magi from the East, the story of the Three Kings of the Orient, the story of the star drawing and guiding wise men to the Lord.  We don’t have a lot of details about how this happened, but our Gospels tell us that God Himself chooses to reveal Himself to all peoples and that God Himself uses various ways to do that.  Yes, our witness is important, but so also are the unexplained ways in which God makes Himself know.

For many, the challenge is to believe that God is calling all of us to the Catholic Church.  We live in a time when many think that all religion is the same.  Yet revelation keeps telling us that not everything is the same, that there are roads that lead to destruction, that there are ways that do not lead to light.

What is implied is that in each of us is a drawing to God, an attraction to the Lord, which will eventually bring us to Him.  If we are to see Him, our hearts must be open to Him.  If we are to live in Him, our hearts must be able to embrace Him.

God is revealing Himself to you and to me right now.  Let us open our eyes to His light and open our hearts to His love.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip