The Epiphany of the Lord, a Homily

Homily, Jan 07-08, Cyc A, The Epiphany of the Lord

Today we celebrate the feast of The Epiphany of the Lord. When I was growing up we use to call it “Little Christmas” & the trees did not come down until after Epiphany, even if it was a fire hazard.

In today’s Gospel from Matthew the reading describes the visit of the Magi to the Christ child as He laid in the manger.  The Magi, who were most likely astronomers/astrologers, came from far away after “seeing His star in the heavens”.

Tradition says they came from India, Arabia and Persia. Symbolically, they represent Peoples from all over the world.

The definition of the word, Epiphany, as you know, means a sudden revelation about the nature or meaning of something. It can be that “aha moment” when we realize a new truth or that quiet moment when the still, small voice breaks into our consciousness and we see things differently.

For example: A number of years ago, I was strongly opposed to abortion, glibly proclaiming “all life is precious”. Yet, at the same time I was strongly in favor of capital punishment. One day, out of nowhere, that dichotomy blinked into my mind and I realized that if all life was precious, then in God’s eyes the life of a killer was precious, as well. I had to get over my belief in capital punishment. Yes, it took some mental gymnastics to get there.

This feast marks the revelation of Jesus to the Gentiles.   Jesus’ presence in the world is now out in the open for all, not just the Jews.

You could say the Magi were both involved in Epiphany and had an epiphany themselves.  They saw something they did not know existed, and invested the time and effort to investigate. Can you imagine climbing on camels and riding 100’s of miles thru desert?

Throughout our lives, ideally, we have numerous epiphanies as we discover truth that opens our minds or changes the way we think about something.

When we discover a truth that changes the way we think, we can be moved to make concrete adjustments.

I believe that is ultimately, what God is after in our lives.

It reminds me of the old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  When God sees we are ready for the truth, He sends someone to share it with us.

I don’t think He wants us to be caught up in liking to hear new things just for the sake of novelty.  Scripture negatively refers to the Greeks liking to have their ears tickled with new ideas. (Acts 17, 21)

So, when we discover a new truth about the Lord, we are not to stop there, we are to consider what actions that truth calls us to make.

One action we can take is to share that truth with others.  Since that truth is about the Lord then that sharing becomes evangelization.

We know the Lord calls us to spread His good news to those who have not heard it in a way that brings about a response.

Often, we think of evangelization in simplistic terms like leaving those little small paper bibles on windowsills in public places. While that is a form of evangelism, what I am referring to is really so much more. It is sharing with another person what we have experienced about the Lord Jesus.  And, when you think about it, that’s all we really have to share that’s truly authentic, everything else is 3rd party hearsay.

Another interesting point about this Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, is that it was predicted in the Book of Isaiah, 740 years before the actual event occurred.

In fact, that is our First Reading today from Isaiah chapter 60. Remember, we heard phrases like:

-Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem, your light (truth) has come

-Darkness covers the earth, but upon you the Lord shines and over you appears His light (truth)

-Your Sons come from afar

Speaking of coming from afar.  Do you remember the story of the little boy in a play about the Epiphany who showed up at the first dress rehearsal dressed like a firefighter instead of a Magi?

Sister asked him why he was dressed like a firefighter.  He answered “that one of his lines was to say that he had come from afar.” You know, afar, a fire. A little South Georgia-eese.

Anyway…The passages in Isaiah 60 are very descriptive of the Epiphany event.

And, once again we see the Lord, calling our attention to His desire from the earliest times to be known by all Peoples not just the Chosen People.

Before I wrap up I would like to share my most recent epiphany.

My kids gave me Samsung’s Oculus Virtual Reality goggles for Christmas. They are amazing! You’ve seen them advertised on TV. They put you right in the middle of the action and it is so realistic that you literally ‘feel’ the action.

For instance, one of the sample videos supplied with the device is someone under water feeding sharks and recording it with a Go-Pro mounted on their head. The sharks come right up to you and take the small fish from your hands as you squirm and bob and weave.

Another video is a roller coaster ride. Oh my! As you careen down the rails swerving and leaning toward the outside of the car, your stomach churns just as surely as if you were on a real roller coaster.

In fact, nausea rises to the forefront and you want to reach up and take off the goggles. But, for all the thrills that are possible, the one thing that caught my attention was the fact that you are at the epicenter of the action and have a 360-degree view of your world, left to right, top to bottom and even behind you.

It is a narcissistic delight, everything is centered on you. You are involved, not just watching a screen. It is easy to forget that it is “virtual” reality not real reality. You know, sometimes we get caught up trying to make life all about us.

The virtual reality trips I took are a good reminder that you better be careful what you strive for, you may get it and sooner or later, it will make you sick – just like in real life, too much self-centeredness can do us harm.

So, on this great feast we pray, “Help us Oh Lord, to embrace the epiphany of You, and respond to Your great love for all of us! Help us to look beyond ourselves and see Your work in all creation”