HOMILY - THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
JANURAY 6, 7, 2018
SATURDAY 4:30 PM, SUNDAY 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM ORDINARY FORM MASSES
Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord – the great feast celebrating the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
In the Epiphany, we close the Christmas Season, and next week we will be back in Green Vestments, corresponding to what is called Ordinary Time.
It was November when we were last in Ordinary Time – and here, the word ordinary does not mean ‘routine,’ but perhaps would be better called ‘ordinal’ or ‘numbered’ – we left Ordinary time just after Thanksgiving, and pick it up in a week.
So, what has transpired?
We spent four weeks in Advent, preparing for the Three Comings of Christ: (1) His coming in the flesh at Christmas, (2) His coming to us in Word and Sacrament – most especially in the Eucharist, and (3) His coming at the end of time.
And for the past couple of weeks, we have celebrated Christmas.
The rest of the world, it would seem, is “out of order.” They began celebrating Christmas sometime around Hallowe’en, and for the past two weeks have been getting ready for President’s Day and perhaps Valentine’s Day.
The Epiphany brings to mind images of the Three Wise Men and their three gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. We see their statues now surrounding our Nativity scene.
Certain scholars dispute the actual number of wise men, whether they were kings, or wise, or even men; and many other sorts of minutiae … perhaps seeking to introduce some of the worldly ‘disorder’ into us.
But whoever they were, they represent the first time that non-Jews recognized that Jesus was the Messiah – the Christ – and the three gifts reflect a recognition of who the Messiah truly is.
Gold acknowledges that He is a king, even though He is born in a stable and lives a humble life.
Frankincense acknowledges that He is God – the rising of sweet-smelling smoke represents our prayers rising to God.
And Myrrh acknowledges that He has come to die – His sacrifice bringing order back to Creation after the disorder brought by the sin of our First Parents in the Garden of Eden.
Today’s feast has an even greater breadth in the Eastern Churches.
Not only is Christ’s coming in the Flesh to the Gentiles – that is not only the Three Magi, but also ourselves as well – commemorated, but also His Baptism in the Jordan, and His First Miracle at the Wedding in Cana of Galilee.
This miracle – or what St. John calls “the beginning of His signs” … the first of seven signs enumerated in St. John’s Gospel. In this reading, Jesus is revealed as the divine Bridegroom, and Our Lady admonishes us to “Do whatever He tells you.”
This is a call to heed the Voice of Christ in the Person of the Word made Flesh, and in the Word of God – that is, in Sacred Scripture.
Today, we celebrate the feast of the Three Wise Men.
This is a call to heed Christ manifested in human Flesh – which elevates human to a higher dignity – for ourselves, for each other, for our neighbor, and in a special way for the poor and needy.
And tomorrow, we will celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
This is a call to heed Christ manifested in the Sacraments. Our participation in any of the Sacraments is only possible through Baptism. The highest point of our Sacramental life being seen in our participation in the Holy Eucharist – where we commune with God.
And so, with the East, we reflect upon the manifestations of Jesus Christ: in the Flesh, in the Word, and in the Sacraments.
As we approach this altar to receive the Most Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ; let us pray for the grace to truly recognize Christ in one another, in Sacred Scripture, and in Sacraments we receive.
May we submit our hearts, and our minds, and our souls to Jesus Christ – our King, our God, and our Sacrifice – and knowing that He alone can order our disordered world and bring order to any disorder in our own lives. May we call out to Him to save us – as our own Savior … and as the Savior of the world!