Feast of the Epiphany
January 08, 2023 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Isaiah 60:1-5 | Psalm 72:1-2;7-8;10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3A;5-6 | Matthew 2:1-12

 + Bless thou the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts that they may be of profit to us and acceptable to thee, our rock and redeemer.  Amen.

An epiphany is an experience of sudden and striking realization.  Generally speaking, the term is used to describe a scientific breakthrough or religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply to any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.  Epiphanies have been studied by psychologists and other scholars, particularly those attempting to study the process of innovation.

Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences that generally follow a process of significant thought about a problem.  They are often triggered by a new and key piece of information, but some depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding.

The most famous epiphany in my opinion is The Epiphany of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, which we celebrate today!  But some other famous epiphanies include Archimedes’ discovery of a method to determine the density of an object and Issac Newton’s realization that a falling apple and the orbiting moon are both pulled by the same force.

In the Catholic tradition, as well as in many other churches, Epiphany is observed as a festival held on the twelfth day after Christmas, or January the sixth.  This year, since Christmas was on a Sunday,  we celebrate Epiphany on January the eighth.  So if you wait as we do, until after Epiphany to take down your Christmas decorations, you may get frowned upon by some people in the secular world who do not follow Christian tradition.

Our first reading from Isaiah tells us to “rise up in splendor Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”  Since Jesus is the Light of the World, He is like the sun to us and we are the living objects that thrive from this light.

The Prophet Isaiah proclaims the hopes and dreams of the people of Israel who seek a future where everything will be perfect; with no evil or harm to anyone.  Those who desire solutions to the problems of the world realize that the ultimate answer to them is faith in God and teaching others to love and follow Jesus.  How the world is changed depends on the choices we make.

In our second reading from Ephesians, which some scholars believe  Paul wrote while he was imprisoned, he reminds us that this light, the grace of our Lord Jesus is meant for everyone as we are all parts of the same body, and we all share in the same inheritance.  This mystery was made known to us through the scripture and by the Holy Spirit.

Today’s Gospel from Matthew refers to the Magi.  So who were the Magi?  In the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, “they were a class of priests among Persians and Medes, who formed the king’s privy council and cultivated as trilogy medicine and occult natural science.  They are frequently referred to by ancient authors.  Later, the term Magi was applied to all eastern philosophers” according to Schaffs Popular Commentary.

At the time of Jeremiah, during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the Magi took their place among the astrologers and stargazers.  It is with such men that we think Daniel and his fellow exiles were associated.  The office which Daniel accepted was probably rab-mag or chief of the Magi.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the Magi appear as “wise men” who were guided by a star from the east to Jerusalem where they appeared before Herod the Great, inquiring about the newborn King of the Jews whom they came to worship.

The Magi came from afar to seek the Lord Jesus.  The Epiphany celebrates light coming into the world through the birth of Jesus, who changes darkness into light.  The Gospel of John contains the most verses spoken by Jesus regarding light, my favorite being, “I am the Light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Greek word for light is “phos.”  The origin of phos describes how light makes all things manifest, evident, exposed, or clear.  Light permeates into every crack and crevice of our lives, whether visible to our eyes, tangible in regard to warmth or metaphorically enlightening as when we can say, “Now, I see the light.”

If we, as  Christians of a Catholic tradition continue our prayers and faithfully follow the teachings of Jesus, the light within us will grow so that whatever situation comes our way, we will be surrounded by peace, love, and truth.

Today, the light of Jesus is revealed and illuminates our lives with His divine presence.  We all must look to this light throughout our lifelong journeys.  When we come to a crossroads in life, we must seek the divine counsel of Jesus and welcome His guidance.

Let us all continue to follow the star and the light of Jesus!