The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in the US on the closest weekend to January 6th, however, it is still an observed Holy Day in Rome. This feast is particularly directed at us. When Christ was born in Bethlehem, few people came to see Him, His birth was hidden and humble, unknown to the majority of people who lived close by, with the exception of some local shepherds. Epiphany recalls the visit of three men whom we know as Wise Men or Magi. These men journeyed from far off lands and came first to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem.
They had responded to God’s call and followed the Star. What was the object of their journey? To see the King of the Jews. Scripture does not tell us whether they were surprised at what they found. What it says is that they “entered the house and found the Child with Mary His Mother, and falling down they adored Him.” They quickly learned that His Kingdom was not of this world. In fact, His birth explained His Kingdom in its humility, simplicity and poverty. Christ was born to preach the Good News to the poor, to suffer and die for our sins. And yet the poverty of the Gospel is richer than any of the riches in this world. In having nothing, Christ had everything because He gave up all to follow His Father’s Will in all things. The Wise Men were learned sages, but they were not of the race of God’s chosen people, they were not Jewish.
They represent the rest of the world, the gentile world, our world and come to do homage at the feet of the Babe of Bethlehem. They offered gifts that indicate the nature of this Child. Gold for the king, frankincense for God, myrrh for man. How did the Wise Men know that Jesus was King, God and Man? Because God had chosen to reveal Himself to them in much the same way as He manifests Himself to us.
What lesson can we learn from all this? First of all, the greatest of lessons: humility. Love reveals itself in small, simple gestures. Love humbles itself. It seeks not to be grandiose, but rather humble and little. As the Holy Gospel exhorts us, we must “seek the last place”. We must become like nothing in the eyes of the world, in order to be great in the Eyes of God. Love is about serving. It is about serving humbly, meekly, without ever seeking a reward in return. It is all about dying to oneself, becoming nothing, so that God can be everything. This is perhaps the greatest lesson of the Feast of the Epiphany. God manifested himself not in the manner of the great thunderlighting manifestations of the Old Testament. He manifested himself to the world, through the Magi from the East, as a simple, helpless Babe lying in a manger, with no crib for a bed. He did this because He loved us and did not want us to be afraid to approach Him. Had He come with great power and majesty, accompanied by an army of angels ready to do His bidding, with lightning and thunder blazing as His chariot, perhaps we might have been struck with terror and hesitated to go to Him, especially if our lives left something to be desired. But a baby in diapers making soft, nursing noises—no one would be awed or fearful. So let us approach Him in the manger, in the tabernacle, confident that this little baby, yes, His name is “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” but He is our Brother and He loves us enough to do anything for us. He just wants us to love Him.
God bless you all!