Epiphany • Year A

Luis A. Vera, O.S.A.
Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine
Bronx, New York

Is 60:1-6
Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6
Mt 2:1-12

Reading the news on the internet is how a lot of people start the day. I still prefer occasionally to read the newspapers. There is something special about reading the newspaper on Saturday morning while sipping a cup of coffee or hot chocolate during this very cold season. But as we read the newspaper or read the news on the internet, we begin to feel unease about what’s happening in the world and in our society.

We read about the war in Ukraine that still goes on, wildfires on the west coast of the United States and the latest snowstorm that has killed at least 39 people so far.

We also read about 2.76 million people coming to our borders last year and nearly 130,000 unaccompanied children entering the U.S. shelter system in 2022.

As human beings we are called to be searchers…looking for something that has been missing in our lives. We need to be looking for something that “the world” cannot give. Like the Magi from the Gospel, very often we are led by something that attract us like a bright light and we follow it. Like these characters from the East, we must come with profound humility, ready to offer ourselves in humble service.

We must be ready to stand in awe before something greater than ourselves. We must be ready to get down on our knees and prostrate ourselves in worship as the Magi did and we must be open and receptive to what we find! It may not be quite what we expect. But we must also be prepared for surprises.

With today’s celebration the cast of characters involved in the Christmas event is complete. As we look at the Nativity scenes from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we can say that everybody’s here.

There are Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus; the shepherds, the animals, the magi from the East, and some angels floating around…and the star…we can’t forget that bright star! All creation is represented in this Manger scene. All walks of life too: from carpenters to Magi. There are Jews and Gentiles.

This should be a wonderful image of the Universal Church! Just as we are today gathered around this Table, people from different walks of life, possibly from different ethnic groups, younger and older. Whoever we are, wherever we come from, we must be like the latest arrivals in Bethlehem: searching, opened to the many possibilities… including the possibility of finding the Messiah, the Savior, God-with-us in a child…in all the unaccompanied children crossing our borders.

These Magi had to discover their king as a newborn child. We must discover him in bread and wine, in our families, workplaces and commitments! We must discover him as an old person in need, in the poor and the oppressed. in the immigrant and undocumented who live in constant fear! We need to discover this newborn child in all men and women, even in those we don’t like or in those who have offended or hurt us!

And like the Magi, we cannot come empty-handed. They brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh as we heard in today’s Gospel, but we come with hope, with faith, with the sparkle of a child looking under the Christmas tree to see if a gift has been left.

We place before this newborn child our hopes and who we are. We bring bread and wine: symbols of the surrender of ourselves to the Lord once again this morning, by renewing our Christian life and our commitments.

Like the Magi, our search must be a journey that takes us away from comfortable surroundings and puts us on the road to somewhere else. And once we find the newborn child, once we encounter this newborn baby who is the light to all the nations, we realize we cannot go out the same way we came in! Once we encounter this Christ, we are changed forever! And we can’t expect things as they were before. Like the Magi, we may very well have to take a different road home, changed forever by this epiphany experience.

May we be opened to the many Epiphanies, the many manifestations, the many revelations of the Lord in our lives and in the lives of others. May we always have the courage and the love to follow the light of Christ and to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters. May we live joyfully in this great mystery! For indeed, as the prophet Isaiah told us, our Light has come…and the glory of the Lord shines upon us – all of us!