Experience an Epiphany
The month of January rests on the three magnificent Manifestations of our Lord. The liturgical calendar of the year begins with a big bang Manifesting the Lord in all its ineffable aura and grandeur. The Manifestation of Lord Jesus as King (The Feast of the Epiphany), the Manifestation of Lord Jesus as Beloved Son (The Baptism of the Lord) and the Manifestation of Lord Jesus as the Messiah-King (The wedding at Cana) deepen the mysteries of the life of Jesus and foreshadow the real significance for Word Incarnate to become Flesh and pitch His Tent amongst us. Now, the Season of Christmas has a whole new meaning. The Santa has vanished, Jesus is here to stay. It is intriguingly noteworthy that the first Manifestation is revealed through the three kings (humans), the second by the Heavenly Father (Divine) and the third by Jesus Himself (Divine become human). The church summons us to Manifest the Lord in our lives as we commence the New Year with more verve, vigour and vitality.
The Epiphany story
Behold! The divine epiphany is proclaimed in today’s solemnity, “We have observed His star at its rising and have come to pay Him Homage”
The Epiphany story vividly portrays the attitude and relationship of men with regard to Jesus Christ.
Firstly, there is the reaction of Herod. He wanted to kill the baby Jesus but did not succeed. He did not want someone to interfere in his kingly lifestyle. Are we too not like King Herod? Have we not killed and tarnished the image of divinity within us by our thoughts, words and actions?
There is a second group of people like the chief priests and scribes, biblical and scriptural scholars, who know everything ABOUT God; the significance and theology but do not know God personally. Are we too not like the second group of people? Are we too not caught up in obligations and traditions, oblivious to our faith and least interested to encounter the Real Person of Jesus Christ?
Finally, we have the group of wise men. “Wise men still seek Him”. The wise men come to worship, just as the shepherds. That’s why they are wise; not because they know the means, the way, but because they know the end; not because they lift their heads to the stars but because they bow their knees before the Baby in humble adoration. Wisdom is not the pride of cleverness in knowledge but the humility of holiness. The wise men open their treasures and present their gifts. Gold for a king, frankincense for a priest, myrrh for one who was to die. These were the gifts of the wise men heralding at the cradle of Christ that He was to be the True King, the Perfect Priest and ultimately the supreme Saviour of Mankind
Can we purify our dreams and desires to finest gold? Can we raise our prayers and sacrifice ourselves as fragrant frankincense? Can we lay down our trials and tribulations, sorrow and pain to rest with myrrh? The greatest gift is not found in the store or under the Christmas tree but in our heart. Can we imitate the wise men and embark on the journey of life like a pilgrim seeking God and when found, worship Him.
The untold Epiphany story
Legends speak of another wise man, his name was Artaban. He sold all his worldly possessions and bought three precious jewels for Baby Jesus: a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl, when he saw the star. Artaban was supposed to join the three wise men on their journey but could not do so as he came upon a sick traveler. He needed to continue his search, but, instead, he stopped and cared for the sick man. He was delayed when he finally arrived to meet the other wise men, they were already gone. So Artaban traveled alone following the star until, finally, he reached Bethlehem. But, once again, he was too late. He found neither the wise men nor the Christ child.
Grieved and greatly disappointed, this lone wise man began his life long search for the king of kings.
But, over the years, as he searched, he continued to encounter the sick, the poor and the needy. He helped each of them by selling all his three precious jewels. Finally, as an old man, he finally arrived in Jerusalem expecting to find Jesus. Alas he did, on the hill of Golgotha hanging on a cross. Finally, at his master’s feet but Artaban had nothing to present to Jesus now, no gift, no precious jewels, only an old weary life. He wept as he reminisced his life and considered his search futile. Finally, as Artaban was about to take his final breath of life, a gentle voice whispered in his ears, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me”.
Truly, Artaban’s search had begun by following a star to a tiny stable in Bethlehem, in hopes of seeing and worshipping a small babe lying in a manger. He did not lose hope when he did not find the Baby Jesus but continued his life long search and encountered Christ in the poor, the lowly and the sick.
Let us pray that this Christmas Season does not end in our life merely by encountering the baby Jesus in the cradle but continue until it takes us to the Foot of the cross. We are called to experience God in our happiness and trails of life, in Christmas and Good Friday’s of our life.
Our response to the Epiphany.
In the Child born at Bethlehem, the wise men recognized the greatest gift which, the Eternal Father made to man, the gift of His only Begotten Son (John 3:16), the gift of existence, the gift of redemption and the gift of faith. The wise men, in response to this chaste love of God’s outpouring to man, opened up their coffers and presented the Baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts are a response to the Gift of God. In this supreme gift of chaste love, man appears as a particular epiphany of the Living God and bears it within Himself. Man who bears the epiphany of the Living God in himself lives a new life. He knows that he has to produce fruits. Hence, he responds to the gift of great Love with a gift. In this act of exchange of gifts, others must realize that they too are epiphany of the Living God. May our life be an epiphany so that all those who encounter us may realize that they too are epiphany of the Living God.
If you are a Christian, you are an epiphany of the Living God. Happy Feast!
Kindly keep me in your prayers.
Contributed to “the Examiner” dt January 05, 2013