Gospel Commentary: The Epiphany

An epiphany can be a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, or an intuitive grasp of reality through a particular event. However, The Epiphany (notice the majuscules) overshadows all other epiphanies. The magi realize this, which is why they simply prostrate themselves and give Him homage. The Baby becomes the omphalos of their existence. What has happened? The Creator has become a creature. The master of the universe has become a toddler. The dawn of salvation has come. The star which guided them to Bethlehem has set and the Son has risen. The nexus between God and man has become flesh and will dwell among them. Naturally, the wise men were overjoyed at the prospect of witnessing this spectacular event. Think of the joy that any person feels when they see a newborn. They see another person, created uniquely in God's image and likeness certainly, but just another person. Still, people get excited, they even start speaking in a different language with odd labial and guttural ga-ga's and goo-goo's. Imagine the magi seeing the Christ in the arms of the Blessed Mother and knowing with blissful certitude that it was not just another person. Not just another cute kid sitting in his mother's arms. Rather, it was the One for whom they had been waiting and hoping. He has arrived. And the event is epiphanic. Their lives would never be the same. Once they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the kinder Christ was present on earth, that the relationship with heaven would change. Never again would they look upon the stars and see a distance that could not be crossed. From this day forth, they would see an expansive sky which led them to God, not isolate them from Him. Remember, these men were not yokels seeing the big city for the first time. They had studied and then traveled solely to find the truth and the Truth led them to Himself. Oh the great joy of a mystery revealed. The curiosity which led them to seek Christ had been fulfilled in the birth of the Messiah. Their response proves such: they gave the best they had - gold, frankincense, and myrrh from their material stock, and the devotion to alter their lives as they went home another way to save the boy from the wrath of Herod. There is no need to gild the lily here. The birth of Jesus surpasses all other births. The simple fact of the matter is that God, who had every reason to hate us, reject us, and/or punish us, so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. The greatest historical travesty ever would have been for no one to have realized it. But the visit of the magi teaches us all that the Son of Man descended from heaven and chose to dwell among us. The greatest personal travesty ever would be for you to ignore it. Fr. Gee is parochial vicar at Our Lady of Angels Church, Woodbridge.

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