THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD YEAR A ON JANUARY 5, 2020 (R. 1: Isaiah 60: 1- 6; Psalm 72: 1- 2, 7- 8, 10- 13; R. 2: Ephesians 3: 2- 3a, 5- 6; Gospel: Matthew 2: 1- 12)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
HE IS NEARER THAN YOU THINK
Merry Christmas! It seems no one is surprised to hear me say, “Merry Christmas” in January. In Catholic Liturgy, Christmas is not just a day but a season. It begins with Christmas Eve on the 24thof December and ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The confusion usually comes from the commercial world that ends Christmas on the 25thof December. Remember that the commercial world has no Advent Season. While we were busy waiting in prayer for the Lord in Advent, the commercial world was busy celebrating Christmas with all the Christmas sales, parades, carols, etc., and so by the 25th, the commercial world was already done, while we were beginning. So, do not bring down your Christmas trees and other decorations yet. And in case there is someone you forgot to give a Christmas gift, I have good news for you, it is not late, you still have one more week.
One of the celebrations, which fall within the Christmas Season is the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. It is the day we celebrate the revelation of the Lord to the Gentiles. On this day, we reflect on the visit of the magi to the newborn King. We also reflect on their gifts to the king. They brought three gifts; the gift of gold to acknowledge and honor his Kingship, the gift of frankincense to honor his divinity, and the gift of myrrh to honor his humanity, which was destined for death.
Today’s Gospel passage reveals that not long after Jesus was born, human beings already began to group themselves into three groups based on their responses to Jesus Christ. The first group is the group of Herod, which is characterized by the reaction of fear, hatred, and hostility. Herod was afraid that this little child was going to interfere with his life, his place, his power, his influence, his comfort zone, and so his first instinct was to destroy Baby Jesus. We still have people who are all out to destroy Christ in the family, in schools, in offices, even in the Church, because they feel he interferes with their comfort zones. What kind of homilies do we enjoy listening to, the ones that tell us to remain in our comfort zones or the ones that challenge us to grow in the way of Christ? The Christian is the one who has ceased to do what she/he likes and has embraced the way of Christ.
The second group is the group of the chief priests and scribes characterized by the reaction of complete indifference. They answered correctly the question of Herod about the child to be born, but it made no difference to them. They were so engrossed in their Temple ritual and their legal discussions that they completely disregarded Jesus. He meant nothing to them. Similarly, we can be so involved in the life of the Church without letting that reflect on how we live our lives.
The third group is the group of magicharacterized by the reaction of adoring worship. They came to lay at the feet of Jesus Christ the noblest gifts which they could bring. In the magi, we learn the lesson that those who live at the greatest distance from the means of grace can put in more effort and be more intent on learning to know Christ and his salvation. The Jews who had the scriptures and the prophets foretelling them plainly about the birth of the Messiah did not hasten to find the Messiah, but the Gentiles who only borrowed the scriptures found the Messiah and worshipped Him.
There are many of our gifts and talents, which we take for granted while others long for them. The spouses, the parents, the children, the siblings, the friends, the country, etc., we tend to take for granted might be the envy of someone outside. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, but today, he continues to be born in our lives and various circumstances. May the star of Christ lead us to recognize him in everyone and everywhere, and may we respond to him in a way that will find us a place in heaven at the end of our sojourn here on earth, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.