The Epiphany of the Lord

01-08-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

This weekend the Church celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany, or Theophany, is the self-revelation or manifestation of God to the world. The first chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel attempts a chronological demonstration of the authenticity of Jesus’ Messiahship by tracing His genealogy back to King David, and farther to the Patriarchs, thereby establishing not only Davidic descent but also His unbroken ancestral connection to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Gospel this weekend introduces the Messiah to the non-Jewish world represented by the Magi. Matthew recounts that after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, the political capital of the southern kingdom, led by a star in search of the “Newborn King of the Jews”. By their visit, God revealed that the Redeemership of Christ would be inclusive of all people no matter where they called home.

On arriving in Jerusalem the Magi sought the guidance of Herod, an Idumean, who had bribed and manipulated himself into rulership of the Jews. He was already paranoid, notoriously suspicious of anyone whom he imagined would attempt to usurp his ill-gotten power. The word of God does not mention that the star which had hitherto led the Magi stopped, neither does Matthew suggest that they ceased seeing it. Yet, the wisemen made the unwise decision of seeking guidance from an insecure and arguably illegitimate king about a newborn King. By doing so, they practically put the Messiah and the salvation of the world at risk. Similarly, we too have received the Good News of salvation and are on a faith journey through righteousness and towards eternal life. It would be a humongous tragedy if we shifted our focus from Christ and His doctrine of life to Herod’s in search of direction.

Herod was threatened by news of the birth of an infant and reacted by scheming to have him murdered. Like Herod, we sometimes feel threatened by the successes and blessings of others. More despicably, some persons even feel threatened by the very existence of babies whose only crime is to exist through conception and they react by seeking to kill children through abortion. How are we different from Herod if we do practically the same thing he did? How are we different from Herod when we are envious of other people’s accomplishments and sometimes wish them ill?

Nevertheless, God demonstrated the futility of human attempts to negate Divine Plan. The Magi, who took their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus, were warned in a dream to take an alternative route home, thus corrected their earlier mistake and did not return to Herod. No evil can successfully stop God’s will. However, it is never too late to make sincere efforts to correct our mistakes and return to the right relationship with God and neighbor when we come to the realization of our error.

May we hasten towards Christ with gifts of ourselves, may we keep our focus on Christ and reject any destructive distractions, and may we be afforded the humility to acknowledge our mistakes and need for a relationship with God and so speedily return to the path of virtue. May I request that we all pray for people who may have participated in an abortion and for an end to this human evil.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh