THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts. May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.
For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Brothers and sisters: You have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
The angels proclaimed the birth of Jesus, the shepherds keeping watch (representing Israel) came to worship Jesus, and the Kings followed the star (representing the Gentiles who are from afar) to bow and present gifts to the newborn king. The “Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
We know that Jesus was born in a stable place as a symbol of the hiddenness, humility, and poverty of spirit that God reveals to us through His Son. But here, the gifts of the kings reveal another aspect of our Lord.
The gold (a precious metal used for adornment and currency) points to Jesus’ royalty, the frankincense (a heavenly fragrance) to his divinity, and the myrrh (used as an embalming fluid) to his humanity. Jesus is true God and true man the light that has come into the world to guide us all to the Father.
Christmas presents us with the gospel, and the gospel demands a response. The shepherds came to see the word that had come to pass. The wise men journeyed and adored. King Herod tried to destroy the newborn king.
For Christians, Christmas calls us to worship. We have a choice what we worship.
If Jesus is our king, we bow our hearts to him and lay our gifts before him. We bring Him our hearts because He alone can satisfy the greatest longing of our hearts. Today, let us examine our hearts. Do I worship Jesus above everything else? Is Jesus the source of my joy? Do I trust in His love? May the gifts of the Magi enlighten us to receive Jesus as our King, our God, and our brother.