It's only been in the past year or so that I've really delved into the beauty of the Epiphany. I always just kinda glanced over it as another Christmas feast and superficially understood that three wise men came to visit Jesus and gave him fancy gifts. How deprived was I of such depth! The more intentional Kevin and I are with our liturgical living, the more the feasts and seasons are coming alive. We really wanted to do was celebrate Christmas in it's fullness and in it's time. That also means keeping the season going when the rest of the world is done. One way we went about this was hosting an Epiphany party last night!
It was a grand time with close friends. There was great conversation, lots of laughs, deep spiritual insights after the gospel reading, and a traditional Epiphany cake! Kevin and I are both so grateful for the evening and could not have asked for anything better. I'm particularly glad that we were able to delve into the passage with the Magi, as their journey to Jesus was pretty much the reason to party. Another reason why we love our friends so darn much. The story is truly so rich and leaves the heart pondering so many things.
I wanted to just share a few thoughts from a couple of very wise men (pun intended). First is from a priest here in Boston who is an incredibly gifted preacher. Fr. Peter Grover, of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, has never failed to touch my heart with his homilies and reading this one on the Epiphany is no exception:
"Here is a question. How many Magi are in Matthew’s gospel? You probably just sang “We Three Kings” the Epiphany liturgy. Perhaps you got a card with a picture of three kings mounted on camels. If you think the answer is three, then you better read your Bible again. Matthew tells us there were three gifts but he doesn’t tell us the number of Magi. It could have been two or four. How many do I think there were? I would confidently say hundreds of Magi. Have I lost my mind? My reasoning is simple. They had gold, frankincense and myrrh, kingly and godly gifts. They better have an army of people to transport those riches half way across the planet. Picture this: King Herod is in his chamber and he hears a knock on his door. “What is it?” “Magi from the East are here to see you.” Herod then looks out the window and sees hundreds kings, princes, astrologers and the wise gathered from around the world at his door. That is what frightened Herod and the city of Jerusalem. Who is this kid that is drawing so many from all over the world? The child is the Light of the World."
What a beautiful image! I mean, it makes sense, right? They would have needed a multitude of people to successfully make that kind of trip and with all those riches. Something stirred in these people's hearts; they were lead to Jesus, the savior of the world. They could not have known the fullness of what they were seeking. Even upon seeing and worshiping the child, they, along with Mary and Joseph, didn't really know what this meant. But they were changed. It's impossible to encounter Jesus and remain the same. They were changed and they went back a different way. And from this, Jesus is made manifest to the entire world. He has come to save us all.
There's just so much we can pull from this short passage, but Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains it well in a few sentences:
"The key point is this: the wise men from the east are a new beginning. They represent the journeying of humanity toward Christ. They initiate a procession that continues throughout history. Not only do they represent the people who have found the way to Christ: they represent the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religions and human reason toward him."
Now I understand why so much of the world holds this feast so high, like a "second Christmas". This is officially a very special day in the Gearns household. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making yourself known to us all.