(R1. Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; R2. Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6: Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word Epiphany comes from Greek, and it means manifestation. So, what we celebrate today is the revelation or the manifestation of the newborn King, Jesus Christ, to the Gentile world, to the rest of the world. The central event of today’s celebration is the visit of the magi that came from the east to see and to adore the newborn king, Jesus Christ. The Bible does not tell us where exactly they came from and how many they were, but the early Christians, out of curiosity dug deeper into it and they have added more information to what we know from the Bible. So, even though the Bible does not tell us their number, from the early Christians, we now know that the magi were three in number, this probably came as an inference from the number of gifts they brought to Jesus. As for where exactly they came from, the Bible does not say, but from extra biblical sources, we now know that one is from Africa, one from Asia, and one from Europe, representing the rest of the world.
What we celebrate today is the manifestation of Jesus to the rest of the world, represented by the magi. Jesus, during his public ministry identified himself as the light of the world. He came as light to enlighten our darkened world. Ordinarily, light does not add anything material to what is, it rather reveals what is. So, when you walk into a dark room, you may not know what is in the room, but when the light is turned on, you then are able to see what is in the room. Light also gives responsibility to the one who is “enlightened.” For example, when you walk into a dark room and you run into a piece of furniture, people would easily tell you, “oh sorry, it is dark in here.” But when there is light and the light has revealed the piece of furniture and you still run into the piece of furniture, even though people may sympathize with you, they would probably wonder if all were well with you.
Jesus has come as the light to enlighten us and to reveal to us what is. The responsibility is now on us to relate appropriately with what has been revealed to us. The magi came all the way from other parts of the world in search of the newborn king, they did not have the full light. In their quest, they ran into Herod, and asked for help in finding the newborn king. They had no idea of the intention of Herod, they opened to Herod the much that they knew about the newborn king. Herod told them to go and find out more about the child and bring him the information so that he may go and pay homage. Later, an Angel of the Lord revealed to the magi that Herod was planning to kill the child, and that they must not go back on the same way. So, they took a different route on their way back.
Herod felt threatened by the news of the birth of the newborn king. Unfortunately, we still have so many Herods in our world, so many people who cannot stand any uprising star; so many people who cannot stand the sight of a young woman/man, who is promising, so many people who cannot stand the sight of another human being who has a great destiny. Like Herod, they do everything within their power to destroy the destiny of anyone who has a promising future. Some are as cunning as Herod and so pretend to be friends, but are actually agents of destruction. Herod 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,” but the homage he meant was to go and kill the child.
Similarly, there are some human beings who seek more information about people, not to help them, but to destroy them. The magi were innocent, they were still in a bit of darkness and ignorance, and so they exposed the little they knew about the child to Herod. But when eventually they went and saw the child, the child enlightened them through the Angel, who revealed to them not to go back to Herod. Today, some of us innocently expose people who are vulnerable to present day Herods because we do not have enough information about such evil people. But when eventually we come to know the truth about them and we keep exposing the vulnerable, we become culpable. If the magi had gone back to reveal the child’s information to Herod, they would have been as guilty as Herod.
My dearly beloved in Christ, as we celebrate the revelation of Jesus to the rest of the world today, remember that he came to enlighten us, and his light also gives us the responsibility to respond appropriately to all that he has revealed to us. So, today, we pray for all the Herods in our lives that God may grant them a positive change of heart, and that God may protect us from them. We also pray for all the vulnerable, those with great destinies ahead of them that God may ensure that all that he has planned in their lives may find fulfillment. For the innocent like the magi who seek the truth, may God give them a full revelation of what they seek, and when they find the truth, may they act based on what they have found, through Christ our Lord. Amen.