Epiphany of the Lord 2020 – What Gift Will I Bring to Bethlehem?
“When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.” St. Matthew tells us about the wise men from the East. They searched for the child who was born king of the Jews. Their overwhelming joy came from the discovery of the child that they had searched for with intent. They knelt down and paid him homage.
The Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Each was a gift with significance. We are invited to pay homage as well. What is the gift that I bring to the Christ? Why is it so significant?
Or, is it something I have in my pile of unwanted gifts, something to re-gift (i.e., get rid of)? We are coming to pay homage to the Prince of Peace. The gift must have significance.
Perhaps the gift I offer on this year’s Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord is something precious from my life, something that is indicative of how I see Christ’s role in my life. Or, maybe it’s a prayerful promise I have for the year (e.g., praying for peace everyday in this dangerous time). What is my gift, my promise?
The Magi searched by following a star. Others of us search in other ways, for instance, trusting in the mysterious unfolding trajectory of life, looking for patterns of God’s action in our lives.
Some spend a lifetime searching, trusting in St. Augustine’s reminder that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Call to mind Anna the Prophetess, an elderly Jewish woman in Luke’s Gospel. She had waited a lifetime.
The other figure at the presentation in the temple is Simeon. He also waited a long time and is now able to proclaim, “Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace.” His eyes have finally seen what was long-promised.
Once we have seen the Christ, something must change in our lives. I’ve always liked a quote from a Christmas card that I once received. It is based on the Magi’s choice of a new way home, after being warned in a dream. “We have seen the Christ …and like the wise ones of old we can no longer go home by the familiar route. A new way is ours today.”
There is one Epiphany, but there are an infinite number of epiphanies. Each of us encounters Christ in ways that are unique to us. Some discover Christ alive for them in their work with the poor. For others, it comes through a life-altering experience of a foreign culture.
Some experience an epiphany through their work with the dying. Many young people experience an epiphany in an immersion program in a foreign culture or a foreign situation in their own culture. How have you experienced an epiphany?
We hear the Prophet Isaiah speak today: “Rise up in splendour, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. … Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow.” Isaiah was prophesying about the Messiah. But his words describe well the newfound energy and zeal of many who have had their eyes opened in a new way through an epiphany experience.