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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

The Epiphany of the Lord

1st Reading (Isa 60:1-6): Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. 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. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm: 71
R/. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king's son; he shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more. May he rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute. All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save.
2nd Reading (Eph 3:2-3a.5-6): Brothers and sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 2,2): Alleluia. We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 2:1-12): When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

“Entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage”

+ Fr. Joaquim VILLANUEVA i Poll (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the prophet Isaiah encourages us: “Arise! Shine, for your light has come, the glory of the LORD has dawned upon you." (Is 60:1). The light the prophet has seen is the star, which the Three Wise Men see in the East, like many other men. The Magi discover its meaning. Others consider it as something admirable, but that does not affect them. And, so, they do not react. The Three Wise Men realize the fact that, with the star, God is sending them an important message for which it is worthwhile leaving comfort and safety to take on the risks of an uncertain journey: the hope of finding the King leads them to follow the star, which the prophets had spoken of and which the people of Israel had been waiting for centuries.

They arrive in Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jews. They are sure that there they will be shown where the King has been born. Indeed, they will be told: “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet” (Mt 2:5). The news of the arrival of the Magi and their inquiry spreads around Jerusalem in a very short time: Jerusalem was, at that time, a small city and the presence of the Magi with their escort must have been noticed by all its inhabitants, thus “When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Mt 2:3), the Gospel tells us.

Jesus Christ crosses the paths of the lives of many people who are not interested in Him. A little effort would have changed their lives; they would have found the King of Joy and Peace. This requires a willingness to look for Him, to move around, to ask without losing heart —like the Three Wise Men— to leave our comfort, our routine. It requires an effort to appreciate the immense value of finding Christ. If we do not find Him, we have not found anything in life, because only He is the Savior: finding Jesus is to find the Path that leads us to know the Truth that gives us Life. And without Him, nothing is worthwhile.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Let the fullness of the nations enter into the family of the patriarchs (…). In the three Magi let all people worship the Author of the universe.” (Saint Leo the Great)

  • “The mystery of Christmas shines on the earth spreading in concentric circles: the Holy Family of Nazareth, the shepherds of Bethlehem and, finally, the Magi who are the first-fruits of the pagan peoples.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee (Mt 2:1). In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation (…).” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 528)