First Reading (IS 60: 1-6) The prophet cheers the exiles who returned from Babylon with a vision of a restored city. The prophecy is fulfilled in Christ and in the new Israel, the Church.
Second Reading (Eph 3: 2-2, 5-6) This reading expresses the theological meaning of todayʼs feast: God invites Jews and Gentiles to share in the salvation brought by Christ.
Gospel (MT 2: 1-12) There Gentiles came from a far country to pay homage to the Christchild, while Jewish leaders rejected him.
The word “epiphany” means “a revelation” a good metaphor for this event ..... would be how on a dull, cold winterʼs day, a break appears in the thick layer of cloud, and through it we catch a glimpse of a radiant sun. All too soon, however, the break is covered up and the sun disappears once more. But that short glimpse of a brighter, warmer world can do wonders for us. Sometimes the more memory of it we have can work itʼs magic on our spirit.
Daily life is full of little epiphanies for those who have eyes to see and minds to reflect. They often slip through the cracks in our armor that we put on to deal with the trials of daily life.
On this day, the Feast of the Epiphany, there was a mysterious parting of the curtain which enabled the Magi to catch a glimpse of the radiance of the Child Jesus. Some people who saw the Christ Child saw just another child. But the Magi recognized the Christ as their savior. All the people had the same eyes, yet they did not see the same things with those eyes. It was faith that enabled the Magi to penetrate the curtain and ʻseeʼ the reality beyond. To help us to imagine what an epiphany may be like, or how to “penetrate the curtain”, I want you to think back to last summer (a good thing to do in January).
I want you to imagine the sounds of crickets. Now remember how sometimes the sound of the crickets becomes background noise and you eventually go about your chores around the house not thinking of the crickets. Then, when you stop what you are doing and pause, maybe standing on the back steps, you once again notice the crickets chirping and buzzing their songs to one another.
This is how it is with God and the epiphanies he sends us. All you need to do is stop.... be still.. and become aware.
And just like the crickets the small glimpses of God come and go. And, also, like the crickets and their songs, God is always there. We are the ones who become deaf or blind to Him.
In this story called “The Silver Chair” C.S. Lewis explains this coming and going of awareness of Gods presence using the voice of Aslan the Lion.
“Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in
Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia the air will thicken.
Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”
So it is for us as well.
This is the challenge all men and women have faced throughout history.
Even for the wisemen, the curtain was closed again, the star disappeared, and they had to return home. They had to go back to their old lives. However, they now had a new vision and a new hope. For them the epiphany had been one of those moments of clarity which takes a short cut to truth. It was a moment when they.... heard the crickets and read the signs, it was an event that invested every minute with significance. No doubt it took time and reflection for them to understand the meaning of what they had found at the end of their journey to Bethlehem. Like the Magi, on this feast we have come to worship the Christ-Child. And, again like the Magi, we have to go back to our homes and get on with everyday living. But, hopefully, we will see our lives differently. We have paused for a short time to see the Christ child and invite him into our lives.
In closing I would like to point out: People sometimes travel long distances in search of God and spiritual experiences which they could have had in their own homes and community. We donʼt have to travel anywhere. His star rises up before us here. Because of the coming of Christ we need no longer fear the darkness. A light has come into the world, a light that no amount of confusion or darkness can over power.