2 January 2011 The Epiphany of our Lord
Isaiah 60, 1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3, 2-6; Matthew 2, 1-12
Note: The Filipino version that appears in Sambuhay today, Sunday, is in the previous post. Sambuhay is a publication of the Society of St. Paul.
We used to call the feast today as the Feast of the Three Kings; but I agree when this was changed to the “Epiphany” meaning “manifestation of God” --- when we are enabled to see with our own eyes God in the form of a child. All of the readings today celebrate this new way of seeing and recognizing God.
There is an important place in our faith for the ability to see. We are asked to fix our gaze on Christ, no matter what we do. The first reading and the responsorial psalm tells us about Jerusalem in shining radiance that all people from all corners of the world come together to sing God’s praises. All people gazes on the star of Bethlehem like the wise men who comes from the East. Despite the commercialization of Christmas, we actually see all sorts of people celebrating Christ today!
But who can see? The readings gives us the answer: everyone! The ability to see God is beyond race or religion --- Jew or Gentle recognizes God. The second reading explicitly show that “it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” The magi from the east as Matthew describes were not Jews, they were Gentiles who belonged to a different religion.
How can we see? The Gospel tells us that those who sincerely searches for God find God. Those whose hearts yearn to see God recognizes the presence of God in the physical world. Those who crave and desire to find “God in all things” actually experience the divine in the most banal and ordinary things of the world. They are those who see what the saints already saw: that everything is a manifestation of God. Therefore, even if the wise men do not have the historical yearning for a Messiah as the Jews, the wise men were able to find God in the most surprising of all locations. Bethlehem was an insignificant village; they found a plain mother, father and a child, but saw through them and recognizes the extraordinariness of the child that they prostrated themselves and did him homage.
On the other hand, Herod and those whose hearts are evil and malicious do not find God. There are those who doubt God. They would ask for evidence or proof about God and, despite what we present, they will never come to believe. They would look at faith with distrust and regard faith as a problem. Talk about belief and they would shut you off, and worse, laugh at you. And therefore, no convincing will bring them to see God as you see Him. The truth of the matter is this: They will not find God --- until a tragedy happens or an extreme terminal illness befalls them. When all of their doctorates fail to heal their illnesses, when nothing can help them as in a life-changing exam, they will eventually begin to rethink and see the world ‘with a different eye.’
It is no wonder then that when we are faced with something uncharted or something happened that we cannot put heads and tails on it, we ask in faith for enlightenment. That like the Star of Bethlehem who guided the magi to the Child, we too are to be given the light to understand the world and our lives. To understand is to come closer to the God of Wisdom. Thus, when we study and discover truth after truth, we all the more wonder about the greatness of something beyond. TIME has it that Albert Einstein who delved deeper into things, finally wondered about the laws of the universe, “What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos.”
We see God in the world today because He reveals Himself to us first. We get to understand a friend only when he or she shares secrets with us. This is what we celebrate this Sunday: God chose to reveal Himself to us first, thus enabling us to see and encounter Him in our daily lives.
*painting by Brian Whelan.