January 8, 2017
The Epiphany of the Lord
The Gospel Today
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
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.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
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.”
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.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
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.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
REFLECTION (Sem. Mark Ian V. Abu)
Today we celebrate the feast of light, the manifestation of Jesus Christ in the darkness of the world calling all humankind to come and share in His light. At the birth of Jesus Christ, the wise men from the East, guided by a star, came to worship Him. This feast is called the Epiphany. Whenever we speak of this feast, we always think of the wise men, who, by following a star came to adore Jesus with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They looked for the new born king of the Jews and after diligent search they found Him in a manger. Yet, this celebration also involves the wicked King Herod who planned to destroy the child and who, in anger and insecurities, ordered the slaughter of the innocents. This picture of the Epiphany arouse in us a tender feeling of compassion for the Child Jesus and the many holy innocents martyred in those days.
We may ask ourselves: what is the relevance of this feast at this time, aware of the many problems and challenges in the world particularly in our nation? What is the importance of the Child in manger, the wise men, the brilliant star and of Herod when crisis, hunger, poverty and respect for life and dignity are being threatened? How should we celebrate this feast when disorder, injustice and cruelty destroy the peace and harmony in our country?
There is only one answer to all the inquiries that we have. It is Jesus! As much as Jesus guided the wise men, revealing Himself to them through the bright star, we are also hopeful that He will continue to guide and lead us amidst the challenges that we are experiencing. Epiphany brings us the grace to hope. It tells us that no matter how great or how grievous the crises we encounter, we shall, by the grace of God, be saved from them. No matter how determined the “King Herods” that we have in our life to eliminate the hope that Jesus is offering us, the triumph of the Savior in the end cannot be hindered. Let hope be the source of our strength as we confront the Herods in our midst. Let us always remember that in our country freedom is like an innocent child, to be nourished with love and to be protected from those who would kill it for the sake of personal ambitions. Let Jesus, the Bright Star, be our only Hope to guide and lead us on our way.