Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
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, as you’ve just read above in Isaiah’s prophesy, had been foretold some 800 years before the birth of Christ.
The word “epiphany” (with a small “e”) is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “a moment of sudden revelation or insight” and “a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being”. The word “Epiphany” (with a capital “E”) refers to “the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi“.
To manifest is to reveal, demonstrate, bring into the open, or make evident through the senses, the reality of something.
It is noteworthy that the first creatures to see the newborn Jesus were his human parents, Mary and Joseph; angels on high; humble farm animals; lowly shepherds; and Gentiles — the magi.
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 Christmas star, the one who will be king of all nations.
The Epiphany, therefore, signifies the manifestation of Jesus as Son of God and Savior of the world. He is not just the Old Testament‘s oft-prophesied messiah of the Jews. He is the Savior of Gentiles too — the Savior 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.”
Noteworthy also is the fact 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.”
Jesus came for you and me. He came for all of us, no matter our race, gender, language, country, or creed. He was publicly humiliated and tortured, endured unimaginable sufferings, and nailed to a cross to die — for us wretched human beings.
The least we can do is to thank Him, love Him, and adore Him as the magi had done so many years ago.
Jesus, I love You — with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.
And may the joy of the Epiphany and the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!