Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses' arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.
Today in Ireland we celebrate Epiphany which is feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. On this feast, Western Christians commemorate principally the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles; Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. It is also called Theophany, especially by Eastern Christians.
"They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."The feast of the Epiphany in the latin tradition focuses on the manifestation or showing of the Child Jesus to the Magi or Wise men who have come to seek the new King of the Jews. The three wisdom seekers represent the gentiles; those outside the covenanted community of Israel to whom the Messiah will also come. Where the shepherds represented the Chosen People, the three magi represent all those who truly search and seek for God in our world even if from out side our community and experiences. The questions this familiar part of the Christmas narrative can pose to us include:
- What "star" do I follow in my life? Do I follow the Morning Star which is Christ or do I have other things I follow?
- Am I open to seeing the Divine in others even if they are different from me?
- Like the Wise men, am I willing to trust in God and go where She leads me, even if it means travelling far (literally or metaphorically), believing that God will be "my staff and my shield"?
Against the majestic surroundings of St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the feast of the Epiphany. On this the day when the Church remembers the revelation of Jesus to humanity in the face of a child, the Pope began the celebration by kissing a statue of the Baby Jesus which was put pride of place in front of the alter.
At the heart of the Holy Father’s Homily, was the message that we must never be blinded by the forces of darkness but instead be transformed by the light of Christ.
The Pope was referring to the journey the Magi made, whose path was illuminated by a star which brings them in search of the great light of the Lord Jesus.These three wise men, continued Pope Francis were able to overcome the darkness of King Herod, and his fear of a fragile child’s birth because they believed in the scriptures.The Holy Father also noted that we as Christians need to be spiritually astute just like the Magi were. They, he said were able to use a light of awareness to avoid the danger of Herod’s dark palace on their way back from visiting the Christ child.
The Pope then went on to underline the importance of what we can learn from these three Kings saying, “ they teach us how to defend ourselves against the darkness that seeks to envelope our lives”, they also teach us not to settle for “a mediocre life”, but aim for a life that is fascinated by good, truth, and beauty.Concluding his Homily, Pope Francis urged Christians to follow the example of the Magi and search for the great light of Christ with our little lights
You can read full homily HERE
Pope Francis greeted tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered on a bright crisp day in St. Peter’s Square Monday for the recitation of the Angelus Prayer and to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany with the Holy Father. In his address, the Pope referred to Pope Benedict Emeritus’s book, “Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives” which he said “magnificently” recounts the biblical coming of the Maji from the East to Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ Child. The Epiphany, Pope Francis said, marks the first “manifestation” of Christ to the people and as a consequence, points to the universal salvation brought by Jesus.
In today’s feast, we see a “dual movement,” the Pope noted: of God who comes “towards the world, towards humanity” and of men who seek closeness to God: “the religions, the search for truth, the way of people towards peace, justice, liberty.”
For his part, God loves us: “we are His children; He loves us and He wants to liberate us from evil, from sickness, from death, and take us to His home in His Kingdom.” We too, the Pope said, are attracted by “goodness, truth, life and happiness and beauty.”
And as the two sides attract, Jesus, the Pope stressed, is our point of encounter with the Lord as His love incarnate.
Had the Maji not seen the Star pointing them to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem, they would never have left, the Pope mused. “Light precedes us, the truth precedes us, beauty precedes us. God precedes us: it is grace; and this grace appears in Jesus. He is the Epiphany, the manifestation of God’s love.”
Departing from his prepared remarks, the Pope appealed “sincerely” and “respectfully” to those who “feel far from God and from the Church” and to “those who are fearful and indifferent: the Lord is calling you too.” The Lord is calling you to be a part of His people and He does it with great respect and love.”
“The Lord does not proselytize; He gives love,” reaffirmed the Pope. “And this love seeks you and waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. And this is the love of God.”
Pope Francis prayed that “all the Church” may be steeped in “the joy of evangelizing” invoking the aid of the Virgin Mary so that “we can all be disciple-missionaries, small stars that reflect His light.”
Following the recital of the Angelus, Pope Francis gave greetings to the Churches of the East who tomorrow will celebrate Christmas. He prayed that all will be “reinforced in faith, hope and charity” and the Lord will “give comfort” to Christian communities and to the Churches undergoing “trial.”
The Pope recalled that the Epiphany is the missionary Day for children organized by the Pontifical office for Holy Childhood and thanked young people and children whose “gestures of solidarity” towards other children “widen the horizons of their fraternity.”
Reflections and thoughts for the feast:
- Word on Fire
- English Dominicans
- Sunday Reflections
- Centre for Liturgy
- Blue Eyed Ennis
- Communio - Epiphany: A recognition
- Digitalnun - Epiphany 2014
- The Epiphany of the Lord - Godzdogz
Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory talks about whether or not the magi were "prototypical scientists."