THE WORD ‘EPIPHANY’ IS from the Greek epiphaneia or theophaneia meaning ‘appearance’ or ‘manifestation. After the festivities  of  Christmas,  it is the time  of  the  Christian  year  when  we  wonder at  the  revelation of God to the world in Jesus Christ.

Then, after speaking in many places and varied ways through the prophets, God “last of all in these days has spoken to us by His son” (Heb 1: 1-2). For He sent His Son, the eternal Word, who enlightens all men, so that He might dwell among men and tell them the innermost realities about God (cf Jn 1: 1-12). Jesus Christ, therefore, the Word made flesh, sent as “a man to men” speaks the words of God (Jn 3: 34), and completes the work of salvation which His Father gave Him to do (cf Jn 5: 36, 17:4). To see Jesus is to see His Father (Jn 14: 9). For this reason, Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through His words and deeds, His signs and wonders, but especially through His death and glorious resurrection from the dead and finally sending  the Spirit of Truth. (Second Vatican Council - ‘Revelation’).

The solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord used to be known as the feast of the Three Kings, in honour of the Magi, who take the central stage of the story. The Wise Men, or Magi (from the Greek word meaning “magic”) are portrayed as astrologers, since they are guided by the star (Matt 2: 2), and as Gentiles, since they do not know the scriptural prophecy concerning the location of the Messiah’s birth (Matt 2: 2-6). They are three in number because of the three gifts, and as kings as in Isa. 60:3. They are Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Their gifts came to symbolise different aspects of Jesus’ being: gold  for his kingship, frankincense for the divinity, and myrrh for his passion. The Epiphany of the Lord to the Magi tells us that Jesus is given to us not as a privilege but as a gift of love and salvation for everyone who comes into the world. The gifts foretell that Jesus will  be the true king, perfect high priest and supreme saviour.

The Magi saw a star in the East that led them to Christ. St Peter speaks of faith as the morning star rising in our hearts. This star represents the light of God, the grace of God ... the work of God in the heart and spirit of every man, guiding every man to Christ. In the life of each one of us too, there is a grace that guides us to the discovery of Jesus. If we follow this light, we will always be on the right path and thus be recipients of the peace that Christ promised all men of good will.

On finding Christ, the Magi worshipped him. Nowadays, many worship power, prestige and glory. We will belong to Christ only if we worship him and not the things of this world.

After the Magi had found Jesus, they did not return the same way but took another way. Similarly, this is the experience of every person who has found Christ. If truly we have discovered Christ in our lives, we will no longer follow our old ways but follow the path that is traced out by Christ. This  is  the only path that will lead to peace and joy on this earth and everlasting glory hereafter.

Epiphany is the season of compassionate encounter. Compassion is such a deep, central, and powerful emotion in Jesus that it can only be described as a movement of the womb of God. When Jesus was moved to compassion, the source of all life trembled, the ground of all love burst open, and the abyss of God’s immense, inexhaustible, and unfathomable tenderness revealed itself. That beautiful expression, “to be moved with compassion” appears in the Gospels twelve times exclusively in reference to Jesus or his Father.

Jesus indeed cared. He  fed  the hungry, made the blind see, the  deaf hear, the crippled walk and the dead live. His many miracles always serve to express his profound compassion with suffering humanity; never are they attempts to call attention to himself. As a rule, he even forbids those he has cured to talk to others about it.

Compassion is the effect of a fully actualized human being. Have you ever come to the realisation that your neighbour’s needs are your own? Do you recognise the light inside him or her is the same light inside you? Are you able to see the image and likeness of God in your neighbour’s eyes? Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whenever you did this to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me” Compassion is a quintessential quality of success.

Gracie Allen played the scatter-brained wife in a comedy team with George Burns. Once, Gracie called in a repair man to fix her electric clock. The repair man fiddled with it for a while and then said, “There is nothing wrong with the clock; you did not have it plugged in.” Gracie replied, “I don’t want to waste electricity, so I only plug it in when I want to know what time it is.” Are we like Gracie Allen? In what ways do we search for Jesus?

Before going to sleep, take a few minutes this week, and look at the stars in the sky. Look at this one, and that other one... Look at how bright they are, and remind yourself: “The light of God is shinning on me.”

Let us resolve today to make  the Magi our models, to follow them to Bethlehem and offer Jesus all that we have and are. He will accept our offering and we will return by another way, wiser and better men.

The mystery of the Feast of Epiphany must remain with us. We are agents of the manifestation of Jesus. Christ is the Saviour of all. We are all called to become one in Christ (Gal 3: 28). Our mission is, therefore, universal. Nothing should block our capacity of love. We should recognise the immensity of our mission and constantly seek minds and hearts where Jesus is being born. From the remote corners of the world, humanity comes to unity in Christ. Epiphany is the beginning of the recapitulation of all things in Christ. His kingdom is open to cosmic dimensions, gathering people from all nations and races into the one people of God. Each one of us has an active part to play in this saving mission. May God give us the grace to accomplish it. Amen.



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