Sunday, 1/8/17 – The Epiphany of the Lord

34575115 - three kings desert star of bethlehem nativity conceptThe Sunday readings today (in the US) celebrate The Epiphany of the Lord and they are very beautiful and full of hope.  The readings are not just about hope, which is beautiful in and of itself, but the fulfillment of hope:

“Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.  See, darkness covers the the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you appears his glory.  Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.  Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.  Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow.”  

I’ve been holding our newborn granddaughter for over an hour this morning, examining her tiny hands and feet, kissing her little nose and sweet cheeks, and stroking her soft, silky hair.  We have been waiting for her arrival for nine months, trying to picture what she looks like, and now – here she is!  A beautiful little miracle.  I am most definitely, “radiant” at what I see and my heart is full and overflowing.  Our daughter has a medical condition and was told by her doctor that she couldn’t have children.  But, here she is – our little miracle in the flesh!  She most beautifully embodies the fulfillment of hope.

The first reading is also a prophecy of hope, that is fulfilled at Christ’s birth by the three wise men:

“…the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.  Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.”

I love this story about Christ’s birth in the bible because of it’s beautiful portrayal of hope.  Isaiah’s prophecy was actually fulfilled in the very same manner that God said it would be.  The three magi came riding on camels and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus, just like the prophet Isaiah foretold it would happen.

As I read the gospel today, I could only shake my head in amazement.  The reality of Christ’s birth must have been a very profound experience for the three wise men.  They no doubt talked about this for many months.  They probably tried to visualize in their mind what baby Jesus would look like, but the picture would not quite form in their mind yet.  Did they ever doubt that he was real?  Did they ever think that they might be on a wild goose chase, or that it might not be the right time for the birth of the messiah?  Could they have misread the signs?  Was it really His star, or just some other unusual phenomenon? 

Their doubts must not have discouraged the wise men too much though, because they kept on following that star, one step at a time, every day, until they landed in Jerusalem.  What an example they set for all of us!  To continue to place our hope and trust in God every day, in all of the different circumstances and environments that we encounter in our own life.  Sometimes we feel safe and secure in our “comfort zones”, and then lose our sense of spiritual grounding if something changes in our life.  A new job, a new baby, moving to a new home, a broken relationship, a death in the family, etc. can disrupt our spiritual routines like prayer, adoration, daily Mass, etc.  It’s disorienting.  But, the magi took all of the changes in their daily life in stride, and continued to hope in God’s promises throughout all of the unknown events that lay ahead of them.

Fear of the unknown cripples many people, but the three wise men’s antidote to fear was to trust God.

King Herod’s answer to fear was control.  He tried to control and manipulate the situation.  The magi kept an open heart and were flexible though, in their search for baby Jesus.  They were willing to adapt their plans and keep new possibilities open for the future.  King Herod was threatened by change and new possibilities in the future.  Who do you identify with the most?  The need to control events?  Or the need to keep an open mind and heart and be flexible to change?  Change is a scary thing for a lot of people and yet some of the very best things in life come to us as a result of change.

The world changed for all of eternity the night that baby Jesus was born …

There are now 2.2 billion people in the world that believe that Jesus Christ is truly the son of God.

The magi already had an inkling of this though, when they prostrated themselves before baby Jesus and did him homage.  The reality of actually being in the presence of the newborn son of God must have been very profound.  Did tears well up in their eyes when they looked at him for the very first time?  Were their hearts full and overflowing?  Did they hold him in their arms or just gaze upon his sweet presence?  Perhaps they did not say very many words – but their actions spoke for themselves.  They gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The prophecy was fulfilled, but the magi’s trust in God continued.  The three wise men listened to a dream, and the warning to not to return to Herod – and they trusted it.  They were flexible enough to change their plans in order to avoid King Herod.  We would do well to remember the magi’s example of faith, hope and trust in the Lord.

Sunday Mass Readings:  Is 60:1-6; Ps 72; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6; Mt 2:1-12

About the Author

Welcome to A Catholic Moment! My name is Laura Kazlas and I’m the creator and founder of A Catholic Moment. Catholics read a lot of different things on the internet these days, but this website is a place for Catholics to read, reflect, and discuss the daily readings for Mass. Our website is run entirely by a group of volunteer writers who have a genuine love for the scriptures that we have for Mass each day. I was personally raised by atheists, but came to believe in God and was baptized because of the words in sacred scripture. I later became a Catholic because of the Mass. The first time my husband took me to Mass, I thought it was the most holy, beautiful sense of worshiping God that I had ever experienced. I still do. My husband John and I have been married for 30 years. We have a son, a daughter, two granddaughters, and a cat. I currently serve as the coordinator of Catholic prison ministry in the Archdiocese of Portland Oregon, in the USA.

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  1. Praise and thanks be to God for your self-gift to him and the Church. Congratulations and good luck!!

  2. Praise God that your group of volunteers Love Scripture, and I pray that as The Word continues to enter your Hearts, The Light of Jesus will be seen by all!

  3. I also used to think the mass was beautiful, holy and sacred. It was also supposed to be solemn and all. But I don’t think so anymore

  4. Its a welcome development,first,in making us appreciate kingship of jesus christ and bringing us closer to serving God.catholics should not play with masses,though i missed today.God bless us all.

  5. I am very happy to have found this web site. I particularly like that the homilies are written by lay people. I also read Sacredspace from Ireland. Thanks.

  6. I find it most interesting and amazing that, not only that the prophesy was being fulfilled, but that the Magi actually chose to fulfill it-exactly as professed. “…all from Sheba shall come BEARlNG GOLD and FRANKINCENSE, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.” They brought these things not only because it was only good and a proper way of presenting gifts of worship, but they chose the gifts according to what was previously written in the sacred text. I love this because it underlines the sense of blind faith they had. They knew in their heart they were going to see the one true God incarnate. Thank you, Laura for all of your work dedicated to the Lord.

  7. Thanks for the wonderful insight, Laura. How I wish I could just be cozy in my comfort zone. But life has it’s challenges. I am touched of how you’ve explained the magi’s way of taking things one step at a time filled with faith, hope and trust until they’ve reached the child Jesus. So inspiring!

  8. Very nice reflection. May we continue our trust in God in our daily spiritual journey. God bless his people especially those who are in darkness.

  9. Last time I’ve read these reflections, they were written by author Joe LaCombe?, I believe.
    Is he still part of this website?

  10. Yes, Joe LaCombe is still writing for this website but has requested to write every other week instead of every week because of increased commitments at home. We are a group of volunteer writers and are very grateful for the time that Joe has been able to write for us as a volunteer.

  11. Laura, congrats on your granddaughter! May God bless amd protect her always. Thank you for this beautiful reflection. It’s so easy to identify ourselves with the wise men instead of King Herold. But after reading your words, I realized that when I fear something, I do try to control things more often than I would like. I pray for all of us to let God be in control of our lives – in every single circumsingle. God bless!

  12. Thanks, just like the magi, i haven’t got much to say.
    U encouraged me to hold on to God in all situations, to always hope n pray.

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