for Sunday, January 6, 2019
Jesus is revealed as God. This is the meaning of Epiphany. Jesus comes as a baby born of Mary. Founding the belief that this was truly God born of flesh necessitated an extraordinary revelation. Some of us have types of spiritual experiences in which we come to recognize what God is asking of us. Some of us never have those types of experiences. Yet, all of us are called to seek to live as fully and completely as we can in this life. What is both marvelous and ironic is that this revelation of Jesus is the new New Thing that always was and forever shall be.
To coin a phrase at the end of the last century before the technology bubble burst in Silicon Valley in California, authors and reporters were hungry to discover the next wave of technology, or the new New Thing, and the next wave of successful entrepreneurs. This drive to discover, like contemporary magi, led many down wrong paths with doomed businesses and business owners. People realized during that heady time that what was revealed was not always trustworthy. . .or true. Certainly not epiphany.
Jesus revealed, on the other hand, gifts us with a portal to catch glimpses of God in our lives. Epiphany can occur when we see something so beautiful that we believe only a God could have created it. Or, it can occur when we have heard a passionate piece of music that touched something with us. In a direct way, someone speaking of God thus bringing us to belief is also epiphany.
The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, speaks of a vague knowledge of the future when the fortunes of Jerusalem will change. This inner and deep longing and even belief that change is possible is part of Epiphany. Our ancestors anticipated the new thing for generations. This longing for future glory, as a nation and as a people of God, draws people towards Epiphany.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Ephesians and states that this experience of God is for all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike. That is simply a way of stating that God's salvation is for all. Everyone is invited to share the salvation given to us by God. This new New Thing may have surprised the early recipients, but it was God's plan all along. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Heb 13:8). The Gentiles may be astounded, even thrilled. But, to our Hebrew forefathers, this was all in the making. Salvation is offered to the Jews in a new way. However, for the Gentiles, this represented a new New Thing.
The magi from the East came looking for the Christ Child because of something that they saw in the skies. It sounds unusual for us today, but such things happened all through history. Again, the seekers and the curious looking for the new New Thing. Their arrival in Judea makes Herod uneasy about his position as ruler of Judea. Yet, when these magi finally meet the baby Jesus, they bow in worship and head home in another way, having been told in a dream to do so.
The Epiphany experience reveals to us that God exists and God seeks us actively to draw us into union with Him. In today's celebration we rejoice that Christ is born, King of the Jews and King of all who seek salvation. For some the search is over, or, for others just beginning. Let us rejoice in His birth and know that He seeks us. May the Holy Child embrace us this day. May we joyfully return that embrace.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 60.1-6
Second Reading: Ephesians 3.2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2.1-12
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: