The Epiphany of the Lord

Fr. Ike Udoh, SJ

The Epiphany of the Lord

Isaiah 60:1-6/Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6/Matthew 2:1-12

The light and glory of the Lord shines upon you; the presence of God is made manifest.  This is what we celebrate on Epiphany.  We recall the three Magi led by the radiant star to Emmanuel – God with us – the light of the world.  But this is not just a celebration of a past encounter; It is a celebration of the light of Christ shining upon us and his glory revealed now in the mystery of the Eucharist when we are gathered by his love; it is also an anticipation of the glory of the Lord that will shine upon us when we see him face to face.

But we must note that there is a purpose to this revelation of God’s glory, and it is not just for me, it is not so I can boast, but it is directed to others.  Listen to the Word of God, “See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.”  We hear a prophecy in Isaiah that the wealth of nations shall be brought to you, bearing gold and frankincense and praising the Lord.  The light shines in order to draw the nations to experience life, joy, and peace in the Lord.  St. Paul says that the light of Jesus shone in his own life, to reveal to him that Gentiles, – the outcast, the nobodies, those considered outside the sphere of God’s love, those he once persecuted and killed, – are co-heirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

When I think of Epiphany and the radiant star that drew the Magi to Emmanuel – God with us – I see that epiphany is about our transformation.  It is about transforming what we value, transforming what we treasure, transforming our way.  Herod valued power, and many of us build our lives upon acquiring power.  If we see another who is gifted, loved, powerful, we feel threatened, and may secretly wish that they fail.  Even the religious leaders of the day were “in bed” with the powerful.  But God choses to shine not in the halls of power, but in the feeding trough of cattle.  We are called to recognize the glory of God in the least among us, in the unborn, in the face of the immigrant, in the face of the naked, homeless, imprisoned, in the African American, in the indigenous peoples, in the caravan. Paul was called to recognize in the Gentile a brother/sister.  Epiphany also calls us to the transformation of what we treasure, as Scripture says, Where your treasure is (your gold, frankincense and myrrh), there your heart will be.  Where does your money go?  What are you devoted to? What are you willing to suffer and die for?  In all our searching, in our quest for meaning in life, the Magi reveal to us the one thing we should value above all others, the one person worth all that we have, all our devotion, and all our sacrifice.   The third thing is that our discovery of the light of Christ, of the glory of God shining on us leads to repentance and conversion.  To encounter the light of Christ is to go home by a different way.  It is to turn away from the deceptions and lies that we valued, in order to walk as a child of the light.

God’s light is here, the glory of the Lord is shining among us.  We don’t want to miss the presence of God. We don’t want to simply know where he is, without running to seek him and know the joy of encountering him, and allow his love to transform and change our hearts.  The glory of God is seen in the weakness and vulnerability of a little child in a feeding trough. Today, the glory of God is in the bread and wine broken and poured out with which he feeds us.  The same glory that was revealed in flesh 2000 years ago, will soon dwell inside of you, so that you can shine with his light, and draw your family to him, draw your sphere of influence to his light so that we may be transformed in what we value (the poor and broken), in what we treasure (time, devotion, and suffering for Christ), and transformed on our way (seeking to walk not as the world does, but as a child of the light).  You who were once darkness, far off, strangers, are called to be light in the Lord. He is manifested for our transformation.

The light and glory of the Lord shines upon you; the presence of God is made manifest.  This is what we celebrate on Epiphany.  We recall the three Magi led by the radiant star to Emmanuel – God with us – the light of the world.  But this is not just a celebration of a past encounter; It is a celebration of the light of Christ shining upon us and his glory revealed now in the mystery of the Eucharist when we are gathered by his love; it is also an anticipation of the glory of the Lord that will shine upon us when we see him face to face.

But we must note that there is a purpose to this revelation of God’s glory, and it is not just for me, it is not so I can boast, but it is directed to others.  Listen to the Word of God, “See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.”  We hear a prophecy in Isaiah that the wealth of nations shall be brought to you, bearing gold and frankincense and praising the Lord.  The light shines in order to draw the nations to experience life, joy, and peace in the Lord.  St. Paul says that the light of Jesus shone in his own life, to reveal to him that Gentiles, – the outcast, the nobodies, those considered outside the sphere of God’s love, those he once persecuted and killed, – are co-heirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

When I think of Epiphany and the radiant star that drew the Magi to Emmanuel – God with us – I see that epiphany is about our transformation.  It is about transforming what we value, transforming what we treasure, transforming our way.  Herod valued power, and many of us build our lives upon acquiring power.  If we see another who is gifted, loved, powerful, we feel threatened, and may secretly wish that they fail.  Even the religious leaders of the day were “in bed” with the powerful.  But God choses to shine not in the halls of power, but in the feeding trough of cattle.  We are called to recognize the glory of God in the least among us, in the unborn, in the face of the immigrant, in the face of the naked, homeless, imprisoned, in the African American, in the indigenous peoples, in the caravan. Paul was called to recognize in the Gentile a brother/sister.  Epiphany also calls us to the transformation of what we treasure, as Scripture says, Where your treasure is (your gold, frankincense and myrrh), there your heart will be.  Where does your money go?  What are you devoted to? What are you willing to suffer and die for?  In all our searching, in our quest for meaning in life, the Magi reveal to us the one thing we should value above all others, the one person worth all that we have, all our devotion, and all our sacrifice.   The third thing is that our discovery of the light of Christ, of the glory of God shining on us leads to repentance and conversion.  To encounter the light of Christ is to go home by a different way.  It is to turn away from the deceptions and lies that we valued, in order to walk as a child of the light.

God’s light is here, the glory of the Lord is shining among us.  We don’t want to miss the presence of God. We don’t want to simply know where he is, without running to seek him and know the joy of encountering him, and allow his love to transform and change our hearts.  The glory of God is seen in the weakness and vulnerability of a little child in a feeding trough. Today, the glory of God is in the bread and wine broken and poured out with which he feeds us.  The same glory that was revealed in flesh 2000 years ago, will soon dwell inside of you, so that you can shine with his light, and draw your family to him, draw your sphere of influence to his light so that we may be transformed in what we value (the poor and broken), in what we treasure (time, devotion, and suffering for Christ), and transformed on our way (seeking to walk not as the world does, but as a child of the light).  You who were once darkness, far off, strangers, are called to be light in the Lord. He is manifested for our transformation.