By Fr Joachim Robert
Theme: Christ is Manifested in the Whole World
On this Feast of the Epiphany, the feast of the three wise men who went in search of Jesus, to encounter Jesus and pay him homage. And as we look at this journey of the wise men, dear friends, a journey that we too take in search for God, wanting to acknowledge his manifestations in our lives, wanting to acknowledge his revelation in our lives. And each one of us go through this search, go through this journey of wanting to encounter and experience this God who has come to love us, who has come to make Himself known to us. And that deep love that God has for us, dear friends, leads us to a greater realisation of who we are.
And the word ‘Epiphany‘ means manifestation, where God reveals Himself to the whole world.
At Christmas, we celebrated the birth of Jesus. And today, we celebrate the manifestation of Jesus throughout the whole gentile world where we too receive the Gospel, we too receive the message of salvation that God has indeed come into the world because God loves us.
And we need, dear friends, to go and enter into that search, that journey of wanting to find Him. But one of the reasons, dear friends, that we need to search or dig deeper in this search for God is not because that we have been lost sometimes. Sometimes we have to realise that God finds us in our brokenness, God finds us in our areas where we have been disillusioned, God comes into our lives because we have drifted.
But we see how the whole gentile world which did not know God or did not know Jesus, by the guidance of a star comes to this realization and that is how God has used their own gifts and talents because the three Magi, dear friends, were learned men. Their quest for knowledge, their quest for study of the stars, led them to a deeper encounter of who God is in their life. So God uses, dear friends, our own experiences, God uses our own obstacles, God uses our own events of life to lead us towards Him.
But how do we come to search God? How do we come to realise that this God who loves us make his dwelling in us?
And like the three wise men, dear friends, we must come to realise that this journey that we take to find Him must come from a desire and a quest for something that is beyond us. Because deep down with all our quest for knowledge, quest for wisdom, we cannot be satisfied because whatever we look for does not satisfy our soul.
And sometimes, dear friends, our own career, our own work, our own studies, may lead us to finding fulfillment. But the fulfillment that Jesus offers to the three wise men is far different. And even though they were learned men, dear friends, they were guided by that star which led them to Jesus and when they saw Jesus, they paid homage. They fell on their knees, did Him homage and they offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In the First Reading of today, dear friends, from the Prophet Isaiah. Prophet Isaiah says:-
Arise and shine out, Jerusalem, for your light has come. The glory of the Lord is rising on you.
And this is a time, dear friends, where Prophet Isaiah was speaking to a people who were in exile and as they were entering into Jerusalem, they had so much of darkness, so much of destructions all around them. But in that hopeless situations, in those dark moments, Isaiah prophesies and says:-
Arise, shine out, Jerusalem, a light has come. The glory of God is rising on you.
And as we look at our own journey of life, dear friends, with the brokenness, with the limitations, with the areas of life that we may be struggling with, perhaps 2022 was a challenging time for many of us. With the demands of the pandemic, that made things a little worse. But as we enter into this 2023, as we enter into this time of this great Epiphany that we celebrate today, the celebration of the manifestation of God even in those moments, even in those dark places, the light of Christ can shine, the light of Christ can emerge, can arise us with hope because the light has been shined on us.
And as we look at the Gospel today, dear friends, once again, the three wise men who goes to find Jesus and looking at the prophecy that has been given:-
And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means least among the least of the leaders of Judah, for out of you will come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel.
It is an invitation, dear friends, to allow the manifestation of God, the work of God to triumph in our lives, and to allow the Lord to speak to us and to pay homage to him in every aspect of our lives.
And as we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus. Let us ask ourselves what kind of gift would we like to give Jesus this Feast of the Epiphany.
We have a lot of search in our lives. We look for many, many things in our lives. We look for many stars as well in our lives but are we following the guiding star which leads us to Jesus or are we following the stars that leads us away from Jesus?
Even though Herod knew that the child was to be born, he did not do anything because as you know, he called the chief priests and the scribes together, enquired about where christ is to be born and they gave him the answer but he chose to stay where he was and allowed the wise men to go ahead and find Jesus first.
Even though we know that the intentions was evil, the intentions was not pure, he wanted to kill versus to pay homage. And as we look at the story of Herod, dear friends, one who chooses to listen but not follow whereas we see the three wise men listened and followed.
And as we approach this Feast of the Epiphany, it is a reminder for you and I, dear friends, to take a relook at our own journey of life. Are we following the guiding star which leads us to Jesus? and when we have found Jesus in many areas of our lives, are we willing to pay homage to Him and surrender our lives towards Him in total obedience, in total submission? And are we willing to allow Jesus to be the Lord and saviour of our lives by paying homage to Him?
And one of the experience, dear friends, that I constantly share on this Feast of the Epiphany because this Feast of the Epiphany has a very deep meaning for me. In my whole journey of the priesthood, this journey of the Epiphany, of the three wise men entering or finding Jesus and going on in a different path have a deep impression. Because at each moment, dear friends, when we are seeking for God, we are constantly confused, we are constantly looking for answers but the answers that we find may not satisfy us just like the wise men.
Some of the answers need to be guided. We need to allow others to lead us towards finding Jesus. In my old journey of life there have been so many people who have made me come to a deeper encounter of God. Perhaps not because of my own knowledge but because of my inability to see the goodness and the work of God in my life. And there are people who have guided and to help me to see things a little differently.
And sometimes we have to also realise that these stars are people who God put in our path, God placed in our lives so that we are able to respond with more conviction, with more love. But we need to learn, dear friends, that sometimes when we receive the stars in our lives, we must realise as well that sometimes we must let go of those stars and to look at Jesus present before us. Because Jesus is the one whom we want to pay homage. Our guiding stars are stars which lead us to Jesus. And sometimes we have to realise that these stars can have a hold in us.
And as you see in the Gospel too, after they paid homage, there is no mention of the star anymore because they have found the Messiah.
And let us pray, dear friends, that as we celebrate this Feast of the Epiphany, we praise and thank God for the many blessings that God has given to us. For the many stars that God has led into our lives, for the many people that God has put in our lives in order to make us come to a deeper realisation of who God is in our lives.
And as we come to meet the Lord, like the wise men, let us pay homage to Him and allow His love, the littleness of His love, to transform and mold and shape us. And like the wise men, let us take on a different path to a deeper encounter, to a deeper relationship, to a deeper union with this Jesus, with this God who loves us and wants to redeem us and save us.
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