January 5, 2020 – The Epiphany of the Lord
Click here for the readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010520.cfm
Homily shared by Fr. Mar Masangcay, CSsR – a Redemptorist Missionary based in South Korea.
Once a woman asked me to bless her Rosary beads. After blessing it, I said, “Surely, this rosary must be very precious & now would be a good companion to your prayers.” She replied, “Yes, father, this is very dear to me. My daughter gave me this from her recent pilgrimage in Rome. But, I will not to bring it with me, for it might be misplaced or lost. So, I will put this Rosary on my altar at home, like my other valuable rosaries. It would be much safer if I keep it there. Anyway I rarely use and pray the rosary.”
As we are starting a New Year, this would be the time for us to review the gifts we received during the Christmas season, and to sort out those gifts we happily received, from the gifts that are of no great value to us. Usually in doing this, we give importance to the gifts that are pleasing and less demanding. Then, we put aside gifts, which are important but not-so-urgently needed, time consuming and demanding. It is like receiving a rosary. We know that praying the rosary is important to our Christian faith and life. But because having a rosary beads demand us to set a time to pray the Holy Rosary, sometimes it would be easy to use the beads, as decoration on our altar rather than as a means for prayer – an aid to encounter the Lord. Yes, using the beads as altar decoration is a valid expression of faith but surely, it would diminish the very value and purpose of Rosary beads, which is to lead us into prayer.
Today, we celebrate the feast of Epiphany. This is our celebration to honor God’s loving act of reaching out to us (God making himself known to us) and our acceptance of Jesus, as God’s self-revelation. We, Christians believe that God has given us His only Son, Jesus Christ, as His first and best gift to us for our salvation. By sharing us His Sons, we become related to God and become His adopted sons and daughters, and sharers of His divine life. Indeed, Jesus is God’s greatest gift to us.
However, like the rosary beads, as God’s gift, Jesus is given to us with a purpose, that is to bring us closer to God. Accepting Jesus in not only accepting him as a valuable gift which we can put aside and decorate, but letting us also be influenced by the grace Jesus can offer and become His responsible witnesses. To accept Jesus, as God’s gift to us, is also to accept with total commitment the responsibility of continuing His mission, which is to present and bring all closer to the Father. Like the three kings in our Gospel, we are called to wholeheartedly accept Jesus, and become responsible witnesses of God’s love. This would mean to let our lives be changed and renewed by the presence of Jesus, and to share and make Jesus and His mission known to the whole humanity.
Here in our gospel today, we are reminded us of what happened when the three kings found the child Jesus lying in the manger in Bethlehem. Guided by the star, in great joy, they saw the child Jesus and they did him homage. Their encounter of Jesus and the Holy Family in Bethlehem brought the three kings great joy for they have finally found what they are searching for. With this, they offered their gifts in homage and thanksgiving to God’s greatest gift to all.
But let us not forget that after they have experienced and witnessed Jesus, the Son of God, they returned by a different way. This is not because they were afraid of Herod, but their encounter with Jesus has also changed their lives. Because of their experience with the baby Jesus, their lives were never the same again. They did not follow the usual path, but they now tread a different way, perspective, and attitude to life. Like our experience with a newly born baby, after they have recognized God in the child Jesus, the lives of the three kings were never the same again. The child Jesus brought them great joy as well as great changes in their way of life.
In the same way, the moment we recognize and accept the Lord, life will never be the same again. As we receive and welcome Jesus into our lives now, may we be responsible beneficiaries of God’s gift of revelation as well as sharers and witnesses of God’s offer of salvation to the whole world. Amen.