Epiphany of the Lord

Today’s celebration, the Epiphany of the Lord, I believe has much to offer us in our faith journeys. As I read today’s gospel, I am struck by the depth of the word epiphany. Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth”. I think of the amount of faith manifested by the wise men to follow a star upon its rising, for them to pay homage to “the child who was born King of the Jews” and honour him with the rare gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

First, let’s think of the effort, planning and preparation such a trip must have required. These men travelled from “the East” to Jerusalem and then on to Bethlehem. It must have taken a lot of faith and courage to be strangers in another city, going against the grain. They clearly understood the significance of his birth and they were not to be deterred from their goal. Indeed, theirs was a journey of faith, a search for meaning and purpose. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI said in his homily on January 6th, 2013 {about the wise men}: “…They wanted above all else to know what is essential. They wanted to know how we succeed in being human. And therefore, they wanted to know if God exists, and where and how he exists. Whether he is concerned about us and how we can encounter him. Nor did they want just to know. They wanted to understand the truth about ourselves and about God and the world. Their outward pilgrimage was an expression of their inward journey, the inner pilgrimage of their hearts. They were men who sought God and were ultimately on the way towards him. They were seekers after God.”

I think of the openness of heart and mind as well as the humility they demonstrated by accepting this child as our Saviour, when they could have displayed the same hostility as Herod. They welcomed Jesus and I’m sure they were unquestionably changed forever. On December 25th, 2005 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI said: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person – Jesus Christ – who gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” He went on to say, “faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, an experience of his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more.”

The journey of the wise men can be made equivalent to our faith journeys, and our search for forgiveness, compassion, grace, peace and justice. We don’t have to travel physically far to get to where we want to be, but the distance, the ups and downs, are nonetheless present. I believe that the message is today’s gospel is that we are all welcomed to accept Jesus Christ in our hearts and that none of us are excluded from God’s love. Sometimes we just need to humble ourselves to the journey.

Katy Mahoney


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