From the pastor’s desk
Epiphany of the Lord – The Revelation of the Son of God to the gentiles
Today’s feast could be called the Christmas of the gentiles. The sacred Scriptures speak about the magi (astrologers, kings, or wise-men) who came from the east at the birth of Jesus Christ. They came in search of Jesus, the newborn King, whose star at its rising, they had been following. Those magi were surely nature worshippers who were searching for the truth by means of nature. They were non-Jews and did not have the positive revelation of God. They knew the God of creation who at the same time is the God of revelation, who has already graced the totality of the created order and made his glory to be felt in the whole universe (see Psalm 8:1; Psalm 19). By following the star (nature), helped by the Jewish scriptures, the magi were able to find Jesus, the Son of God in Bethlehem.
One might think that the star they followed just appeared at that time. The fact is that, the star that led them to Jesus in the midst of Mary and Joseph had been there from the distant past. When Israel came out of Egypt en route to the Promised Land, as they were passing through the plains of Moab, the King of Moab fetched Balaam a pagan prophet to come and curse Israel to stop their advancement. When Balaam came, seeing the star of scepter arising from these people, instead of cursing Israel, he blessed them, asking how he could ever curse a people blessed by God (see Numbers 22 to 24).
The Star following these people was seen in the distant past by the prophet Isaiah in our first reading when he calls on Jerusalem to rise up in splendor because her light has come. The Lord shines over her and makes his glory to appear. Nations walking by the light of Jerusalem will come and empty their riches there (see Isaiah 60:1-6 and Psalm 72).
The visit of the magi to Jesus was in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. They are representative persons representing each of us who are non-Jews. They gave baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their significance is remarkable. Gold is given to kings, frankincense given to priests, and myrrh for burial. Their significance expresses our faith in the baby Jesus whose universal kingship will bring about a new world order and peace. As priest and victim, Jesus will offer himself on the cross to the Father as a perfect sacrifice that will take away the sins of the world. Jesus’ innocent and vicarious death on the cross and his burial will be redemptive or salvific. Its atonement will reconcile those at extremes–Jews and gentiles, both of whom will become co-heirs, members of the same body and sharers of the promise through the preaching of the gospel (Ephesians 3).
As the guiding star led the magi to Jesus, so may we be led by the teachings of the church, to choose the star of the savior in the present time, to the fullness of Christ’s knowledge and closer relationship with him. May we also as individuals, live our lives as stars, leading many to Jesus.
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD