Reading I: Isaiah 60:1-6
Reading II: Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
GOSPEL: Matthew 2:1-12
Eyes of Faith are Needed
Epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means an appearance or manifestation, especially of a divine being. Today the Church commemorates the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles – the visit of the Magi – as the significant event that it was… but is it one that gets overlooked these days?
What really went through the minds of the Magi when they first looked upon this carpenter, his peasant wife, and their infant son? What did the Magi think of the house where they stayed? Perhaps their initial reaction was not much different than the reaction of someone who walks into a Catholic Church for the first time. In order to see clearly, eyes of faith are needed.
It’s not very likely that the Magi expected what they found. In fact, they paid a visit to King Herod before continuing on to Bethlehem. If you’re looking for a new king, doesn’t it make sense to start by checking the local palace? Especially in Jesus’ time, royal bloodlines were an accepted norm, so it’s doubtful the Magi expected anything other than an offspring of the current monarch. Do you think they were a little surprised by what they found?
Imagine what it must have been like for the Magi when they first walked into the house where Jesus was. It certainly wasn’t a palace and Jesus wasn’t decked-out in royal robes, servants attending to his every need. It was a humble dwelling occupied by people who probably seemed pretty ordinary at first glance. Yet the gospel reading today tells us that the Magi “prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” The only way the Magi would have done this was by seeing Jesus and Mary through eyes of faith.
We live in a cynical world. Judging by the latest headlines and the trending videos, it’s also a world that longs for dirty laundry. Nothing but a steady diet of gossip will do. So is it really any wonder that people often look at religious organizations and see nothing but corruption, oppression and self-serving behavior?
When we are able to look at the Church in the same way that the Magi looked at Jesus – through eyes of faith – we see a much different picture. We see a family. We see people who aren’t perfect, who don’t always say the right things (and sometimes say the wrong things), but who are working together to take care of each other and the world around them. Like any other family, there are both good times and bad, and the Holy Spirit is always present amidst our Church family.
Rose-colored lenses mask reality, making an ugly thing seem pretty. Faith-colored lenses reveal reality and allow us to see Christ at work within his Kingdom! The Magi saw it when they looked upon the face of the baby Jesus – Christ revealed to the Gentiles (those not of Jewish descent). Perhaps we are being called to help non-Catholics do the same today. Maybe we need to help them see – help them experience an epiphany of their own – by truly living the gospel this coming year.
That sounds like a worthwhile New Year’s resolution to me, and a fine way to help commemorate the Epiphany of the Lord!
What do you imagine the Magi thought when they first entered the house where Jesus and Mary were staying?
What would a visitor to your Parish think after attending mass a couple times?
What are three things you can do this year to live the gospel every day?
Original article by Brandon Jubar, 2004-2021.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.