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.
Today is the great feast of the Epiphany, which celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the magi – an event that, astonishingly and as you just read, had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah, who lived some 800 years before the birth of Christ.
The magi were wise men — non-Hebrew pagans from the East. Bearing gifts fit for a king — those of gold, frankincense, and myrrh — their coming to Jerusalem to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.
The Epiphany, therefore, signifies the manifestation of Jesus as Son of God and Savior of the world — not just the oft-prophesied, in the Old Testament, Messiah of the Jews, but the Savior of Gentiles too, of all humanity.
As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians 3:6:
“the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
It is noteworthy that the magi, as the first Gentiles to find Jesus, were also the first Gentiles to receive His salvific grace. As recounted in Matthew 2:12:
“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.”