Looking up the word “Epiphany” in the thesaurus, I found similar words such as “inspiration“, “insight“, “realization” and “vision“. Secondary words seem even more fitting in trying to describe the amazing story of the Magi traveling a great distance to pay homage to a tiny baby who represented a new age; a dawn of salvation: “oracle“, “sign” and “surprise“. Reading some of the upcoming Sunday’s gospel for the “Epiphany of the Lord”, decide for yourself which of the above words resonates in your heart as you imagine yourself in this incredible scene:
The Visit of the Magi. 1 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” 9 After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 11 and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. (NABRE)
In gathering to Encounter Christ together today, we had some “insights” (another thesaurus word for Epiphany):
- He was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him”…We can guess that Herod’s “trouble” came from being of lesser consequence to traveling kings who came looking for a newborn who was to be a great ruler; but why all Jerusalem as well? When a leader is fearful, he often spreads his fear into his people, often hoping to gain control, as we later see in the slaughter of the innocents (Matthew 2:16). In contrast, these wise men showed great humility and faith by traveling so great a distance to honor such a special occasion, most likely not understanding the depths to which this infant was so special.
- In the movie “The Nativity Story”, the scene in which the Magi approach the Holy Family in the manger is especially moving. We can envision the kind of reverence and joy these wise men felt in this amazing moment. They were “OVER-JOYED” which is what we could only imagine in this situation. It is a vision (epiphany word) of the kind of joy and reverence we should strive for during mass or adoration prayer.
- There is a vision of great joy in imagining this scene; there are times in our lives when we are so filled with God’s love and joy that we are eager (and feel a need to) pour it back out to serve God and others. We should feel excited and invigorated always when we serve, and show outward joy when we do.
- It was God’s great plan to send us to a savior; a plan from ages old for a Messiah to save all sinners, and he fulfilled the promise of this savior. The wise men were WATCHING AND WAITING for a star, an oracle. Thanksgiving for the fulfillment of God’s promises, leads us to the joy and the humility the wise men show before Jesus.
- Also is the movie, The Nativity Story, the Magi were portrayed by characters that were relateably human. They seem to represent the three primary sins of vanity, pride and sensuality in their querky and comical portrayal of men setting about a long journey, to a distant land, based on their own faith and lead by a star in the sky. Clever screen writing and production portray how although “regal”, these “wise” men still had human faults and qualities that, like all of us, can be hiccups in the way we set about our God-given destiny.
Our case today was about a young woman who had studied abroad in Rome, and while there, attended a holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration which was very powerful and reverent. Upon talking to the priests who ran the holy hour, she found them to be very respectful and forthright. They explained when she went back to the states she may hear negative information about their founder if she decided to search them out. She decided to go to an event back in Chicago hosted by the same order, much to the concern of her father, who had heard negative information as well. Eventually, she asked her father if she could invite one of the priests to dinner, and he agreed. The priest became a wonderful friend at the service of the family.
Virtues: Faith, and fortitude. The priests were upfront about the process of renewal they were experiencing as a result of the negative behavior of their founder, under the direction of the church. Their reverence, kindness and honesty were exemplary, which helped her to feel more certain about the holiness she was feeling when she was around them. They were determined to keep going in faith and service to the church, with the guidance of the pope, who told them to keep serving, despite the negative circumstances.
One member of our group stated that she had heard that Christ begins with “his body”, the church, when there are changes to be made among the people. The church goes through purification first, often as an example to those in the peripheral.
In order to support all of our priests in the world in the difficult job they do, and to increase our own sense of fortitude in faith, we came to the following resolutions:
Apostolic: Attend a Holy Hour of adoration if possible this week, preferably tomorrow for “First Friday” devotions, with the intention of spiritually supporting our priests in their faith and fortitude. In addition, we can opt to send a hand written note to a priest we know who could use our encouragement and gratitude.
Spiritual: Meditate on the humility and joy of the nativity scene, with the hope of increasing our own sense of spiritual joy and humility, faith and fortitude that was exemplified in the wise men in the gospel, and the priests in this case.
As always, we invite you to join in our resolutions, and gratefully accept your prayers for our group intentions.