Blog # 290 Epiphany
Blog # 189 identified the Church's practice of celebrating the life death and Resurrection of Jesus and of feasts of individual Saints throughout the Liturgical Year as a valuable resource in aiding us to grow both in the knowledge of our faith and in a more regular and effective application of our faith in our daily experience of life. Blog # 290 is an example of one way this might be done when it is applied to the Feast of the Epiphany.
The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem. It happened a long time ago in a far away place. They came by camel rather than by any of the various more rapid and more comfortable means of travel available to us today. They traveled a path through the desert. It was a long and difficult journey. If we realize what our liturgical feasts are designed to do, we realize we have a part to play, today, in the events in the life of Jesus or of a particular Saint whose feast we celebrate. We have questions to answer. What was happening? Who are the people involved? What did they think or say or do?
Mary and Joseph continue to be present. They are faithful servants of the Lord, holy ones. We admire them and thank them. They give us joy in their love for Jesus. The Magi are discoverers, willing to grow, to follow their star, responsive, self-giving, persevering, rich, yet humble, blessed. To be like them we are not called to learn how to ride a camel, but how to identify and follow a star.
Their physical star may have been Haley's comet. No doubt there were many people who saw it with their physical eyes. A second star for the Magi was a 'star' that told them God's plan for them, that invited them to go after it. I was their conscience, and following that star they found Jesus . We have a conscience too, and we are 'Magi', invited to follow our unique individual star. If we pray and look around us and within us with an open mind and heart our spiritual star appears. Following it we have a safe and secure path that leads us to Jesus.
Herod was jealous, fearing and fearsome, selfish insecure and violent. We can thank him for teaching us how we should never be. Finally the ordinary people. As tradition has handed the story down, the Magi were few in number. Most of the people seem to have been unaware of them and their story. Most of the people seem to have been following another agenda. The story of the Magi goes on today but most of the people have passed on with their temporary agenda. Maybe later on some of them came to know and believe in Jesus. Maybe some of them were there on Calvary when Jesus died and watched that go by too.
Some like these are alive today. We ask God's mercy for them.
The traditional theological content of the Feast of Epiphany has been a recognition of the divnity of Jesus in the miraculous coming of earthly rulers and wise men to pay Him homage and offer their treasures to him, and secondly, an emphasis on the universality of salvation, and the call to welcome the whole world into the love of God in Jesus. This is seen in the fact the Magi are traditionally given as Gentiles rather than as Jews, already members of the People of God and children of Abraham.