The Epiphany of the Lord
January 7, 2018
People put different boundaries around Christmas. Some decorate the day after Thanksgiving and have everything taken down and packed away by noon on Dec. 26. Others wait until Christmas Eve to put up the tree and it is well into the New Year before they let go of the season. In almost every neighborhood, there is a house that still has the outdoor lights brightening up the dark winter night…until it’s not winter anymore. With the exception of the retail industry, in the secular world, there is no official starting point or closing date for the “season to be jolly.” And that might be a good thing. The early starters and the last to finish help to stretch out the “tidings of comfort and joy.”
From a spiritual standpoint, our Church places NO BOUNDARIES on our celebration of The Incarnation…God’s Eternal Word made flesh. Throughout the year, we continue to hear and rejoice in what God reveals to us by the Eternal Word that was spoken into the body of Mary and born into time in Bethlehem. The Good News continues to gladden our hearts every day of the year, filling those wise enough to listen with “comfort and joy.” That being said, we do follow a liturgical calendar, and, in that sense, there is a beginning and an end to The Christmas Season.
Which brings us to the celebration of the Epiphany. From a chronological standpoint, the events described in Matthew’s Gospel must have occurred after the arrival of the shepherds but before the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt to avoid the tragic slaughter of the Holy Innocents. And so we hear this event proclaimed towards the conclusion of the Christmas Season. This, by no means, indicates that the exotic visitors from the East played a minor role in the Birth of Jesus Christ. There is much more to this Feast than merely bringing the final three figures from the closet to our crèche.
Woven into this story are the same themes that run throughout the Infancy Narratives. The three are aware of God’s promise to send a Savior and are vigilant for signs that the ancient prophecies are fulfilled. Like Mary and Joseph, they respond in a courageous manner when, at last, the star signals that something extraordinary has happened. They are accepting of the risks that faith often demands and they undertake an arduous and dangerous journey to parts unknown. The gifts they bring indicate their awareness of what they are searching for: King…Sacrificial Lamb…Divinity. And, in spite of the unlikely circumstances in which they find The Christ Child, they recognize Him immediately for who He is and they respond by humbling themselves.
While the Gospel offers little detail of these three mysterious witnesses, it is clear that they represent faith-seeking understanding, and for their efforts, they are richly rewarded.
Theirs is a story that we cannot simply wrap in tissue paper and pack away with the little plaster camels. The Feast of the Epiphany is a reminder that God’s promise to send a Messiah was for all people of all ages. However, to appreciate that the Promised One has arrived, a person must be vigilant for the signs signaling His arrival into our lives. Like the Magi, when we sense that God is inviting us to take part in something extraordinary, we should respond in a courageous manner, accepting risks and traveling into foreign places, carrying us far from our comfort zone. We bring the gifts which God has given to us and place them at the feet of the Newborn King…the unblemished Lamb Who will become the perfect sacrifice to atone for sin.
Possibly the most important lesson we learn from these three paragons of wisdom is humility. If we humble ourselves before the Christ child, we will be richly rewarded, and, like the three visitors from the East, we will return to our lives “another way,” that is to say…sanctified.
THE STAR is not a seasonal event. It is there in the night sky every single night. Are you wise enough to look up? Are you courageous enough to follow it?
Here is a star that will lead you to a child who did not suffer the wrath of Herod, but nevertheless found very little comfort and joy during the Christmas Season. Saginaw County currently has within its custody and care far more children than can be placed in safe and loving foster homes. These kids obviously did not spend Christmas in a stable, but they did not have the support and protection of a Holy Family. If you are willing to take a risk…leave your comfort zone…and accept an invitation to do something extraordinary…please consider becoming foster parents. And if possible, please share this urgent message by means of your social media outlet. PEACE!
For information as to how you can serve….please call
Amanda Moran, LLMSW
Foster Care Worker
Foster Home Licensing
Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
411 E. Genesee
PO Box 5070
Saginaw, MI 48605