January 8, 2023
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Today we celebrate the feast of Epiphany, which means “manifestation”. We celebrate God’s manifestation of Himself, not only to Israel, the people of His covenant, but now to all peoples.
The feast of Epiphany is a wonderful reminder that God is a God of revelation. He wants to reveal Himself to us because He wants us to know Him. And more importantly, He wants us to know that He loves us. God reveals Himself in many ways: through the Scriptures, the sacraments, the Church, the people, and the events in our life.
The question is: do we recognize Him? Unfortunately, what John says is true. “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him.” (Jn 1:11)
But the real problem is not that we do not recognize Him. More often than not, we do. We read the Scriptures. We know our Catechism. We have our conscience. But like Herod and the chief priests and scribes of Jerusalem who knew where Christ was to be born but did not go, we too can be paralyzed by our own indifference and lack of love. It takes more than knowledge and recognition to encounter the newborn Messiah and accept Him as our Savior.
To encounter Christ is to embark on a journey, much like the Magis. This demands our attentiveness, courage, and resolve. In reality, God manifests Himself to us at every turn, and we need a discerning spirit to perceive His move. Thus, the need to be attentive. Here we see the importance of prayer and the scriptures.
As the journey of the Magis was fraught with obstacles and opposition, so is our spiritual journey. Opposition can come from the dark forces (the devil is real) and from without. It can also come from within. As mentioned earlier, Herod and the religious leaders of Jerusalem knew where the Messiah was to be born, but, unlike the Magis, they remained in Jerusalem. Many times, we are the greatest obstacle in our journey to God, of our indifference, complacency, and laziness. Thus, the need for courage and determination.
Finally, we need a strong resolve to change because every true encounter with the Lord will only lead to conversion. Heeding the angel’s warning, the Magis went home by a different route. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “No one ever comes to Christ and goes back the same way.”
While the journey of the Magis was long and far, ours is an internal one. We first have to encounter Christ in our hearts, if we are to recognize Him in the world.
I remember a story about a boy who tearfully complained to the star, “How can I reach you when you are so far?” To which the star replied, “But I am already in your heart; otherwise, how else could you see me?”
How do we encounter Christ? Do we recognize Him when we read the Bible when we attend Holy Mass when praying? Do we encounter Him in the people we meet every day?