The Epiphany of the Lord Year A, January 5, 2019-“Walking in the light of His Star”Father Lawrence ObilorDaily Readings for MassINTRODUCTIONThe Greek word Epiphany (επιφάνεια) simply means appearance, or manifestation, or showing forth. Originally it was designated as the visit of a king to the people within his territory. But in its religious parlance, it refers to the revelation of God The Eternal King to his people. And today the Church affirms that this revelation is only made visible in the person of Jesus Christ, cutting across every single moment of his life. However, in line with the event of today, the Church commemorates:a) His revelation through the baptism at Jordan as the only Son of God (Mt 3:13-17)b) His revelation at the wedding in Cana of Galilee as a Miracle Worker (Jn 2:1-12)c) His revelation in the synagogue of Nazareth as the Messiah (Lk 4:16-21).FIRST READING: Isaiah 60:1-6For the chosen people, slavery and exile represented moments of darkness whereas their liberation was seen as a light. This is why in the Genesis account of the creation the author always concluded the narration of each day of creation with the phrase; “Evening came and morning came…” Thus Genesis is a narrative of one who had lived the experience of Exodus; the experience of God who liberates.Today the prophet Isaiah uses this same language to describe the people in Babylonian exile when he invites them to rise and shine for their light has come, in other words their salvation has come. He assures them that even though for a moment they have been in darkness, now they will shine in glory and will become a light through which other nations will see. And God will restore their glory to the point that kings of other nations will pay them tribute.This prophesy is a prefiguration of the birth of Christ, the Messiah who restored the glory of the people of God who were lost in the slavery of sin. And today, the magi (image of the people of all nations) paid him tribute. He has become their light and salvation.SECOND READING: Ephesians 3:2-3a.5-6In the second reading, St Paul explains God’s “secret plan” to the Ephesians.This plan is that through the coming of Christ, the Gentiles have been admitted as members of God’s family. There is no more Jews or Gentiles. There is no more second class citizens for all are now part of the body of Christ, the Church.GOSPEL: Matthew 2:1-12Based on the Matthew’s account of the visit of the Magi who offered gifts meant for kings to the new born child – that is, gold, frankincense and myrrh (Mt 2:11), they have generally been thought of as kings. But there is no clear indication that they were Kings. In fact a deeper study reveals that they were a caste of Persian priests who served Kings or babylonian astronomers who used their skills in interpreting dreams and watching movements of stars to discover the birthplace of Christ. But they were image of the different peoples and races (gentiles) whom God has revealed himself to. And the star which they saw and followed is the light of salvation (Christ) which Isaiah prophesied in the first reading.LIFE MESSAGE: FROM THE SCHOOL OF THE THREE WISE MEN!1 We cannot discover God if we do not make ourselves available for God to discover us. The wise men did not start their journey simply because they saw the star, rather they had already begun the journey in the spirit before his star came to guide their steps. In other words they were already disposed to make such a faith-filled journey. If our hearts are not open to the ways of God, no matter the number of times we hear the Gospel, receive the sacraments, or participate in spiritual gatherings, we cannot meet the Lord.2 To encounter the Lord, we must make a move. We must travel miles like the Magi. We must deny ourselves of some comforts. We must risk our lives. We must be ready even to leave our homelands and our families. In summary, we must be detached from things around us to make a preferential option for God. It is not an easy journey. It is purely a faith-filled encounter. Only those who are persevering will reach Bethlehem (image of God’s presence).3 We must be conscious that in our journey of discovering the Lord, we must meet with ‘Herods’. Here the term stands as any form of distraction that may come our way. More often than not, they come with convincing sweet words, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”a) Beware of ‘herods’! When they see that you are walking on the road of Faith, they want to pull you back. When they see that you are heading for success, they want to know the source of your progress, so that they also will come and worship it. By worship, Herod actually meant to come and destroy the child.b) Beware of ‘herods’! The magi did not last long in the home of Herod because in the spirit they had discovered that they were in a wrong place. Do not remain around and in the company of herods for long because they may end up destroying you. It is necessary to meet with ‘herods’ in your journey of Faith because it is a way to prove the authenticity of your Faith.c) Beware of ‘herods’! They are not your destination but a necessary means to your destination. When you meet them, be courageous enough to say, you herods, I cannot allow you to distract me, I must reach the ‘Eternal Bethlehem’ my destination. Bethlehem here represents our heavenly homeland where we will finally meet with our God. There, our joy will be full for those who persevered without submitting to the lure and distractions of the ‘herods’ of their life.4 Even though the scripture particularised the type of star that appeared to the wise men as ‘his star’, it did not in any way confuse it with the identity of whom they were searching for. In other words, the wise men understood they were searching for the king under the guidance of the star. Ordinarily as pagans, they would have taken the star to be God himself but they did not.Friends, we must understand that in our journey of Faith, persons, events, nature itself, and even the circumstances of our lives are means through which God communicates his presence. We should allow them to be a means of discovering God and never allow them to confuse our identity of God. In times past and even today, many people still worship nature due to their awful experience of some natural manifestations leading to what we call ‘naturalistic pantheism’ that is seeing God the same as nature. Inasmuch as nature, events and persons speak volumes about a supreme being and serve as means of God’s revelation of himself. Let our focus and adoration be God and nothing more.5 The three wise men persevered and were able to rediscover their star. Your light of Faith and success will in one moment or the other grow dim and almost invisible when you meet the ‘herods’ of your life. In other words when you wrestle with the challenges of this life. But know it that, as long as you are able to remain conscious of the reason why you have started your journey (like the wise men who still remembered their star) and he whom you are searching for (Jesus), you will surely make it to the end. Moments of darkness will not last forever, your star will surely reappear and you will rejoice like the wise men when they saw their star again. You will not just rejoice, but you will enter in to see the king whom you have been searching for and your joy will be complete.6 Finally, when the Magi finally met Jesus they returned through another road. When we truly encounter the Lord we cannot continue walking on in the same old way.PRAYERMay this feast of light chase away the darkness of our hearts, keep our eyes focused on His Star we saw during our baptism and place us on the right path in our journey to meeting our king, the Christ in the everyday of our life here on earth and in the ‘Eternal Bethlehem’ in heaven. Amen.