January 3, 2020 – Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/010321.cfm)
What is it that you are hoping for this year? Or what is it that drives you most for this year 2021? Are you looking for somebody who will give meaning to your life? Are you searching for something that will give you contentment in life? Are you expecting something that will fulfill the emptiness in your heart, or of something that will at last dispel your fear and anxiety?
Each of us must be hoping or expecting something good to happen for ourselves and for our families. That is why, we have dreams and we make plans on how to fulfill what we envision for ourselves. In the recent Pulse Asia Survey conducted from November 23 to December 2, 2020, it revealed that 91% of Filipinos celebrate Christmas and New Year filled with hope amidst the devastating year of 2020. The same percentage also expressed an optimism for this year 2021 and 87% of people in Mindanao particularly, expressed this optimism. The survey indeed revealed a high hopefulness for this year.
This survey can be an indicator of a high motivation among us to journey forward, to continue searching and making a reality what we hope for ourselves and for our families and communities. This also indicates that as we hope and aspire to fulfill our desires and dreams then we also take risks. The risks here may include investing our time, energy and resources, developing and forming new relationships and venturing into unknown territories.
Such reality brings me now into what we celebrate this Sunday. Today is the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord or God’s manifestation of Himself to us. This Sunday is popularly known as the Feast of the Three Magi or Wise Men. However, this feast is not actually about them but about that baby boy whom they found after their tiring search of the shining star, the fulfillment of their dreams.
Though the three Magi are not actually the focus here, but there are lessons that we can learn from them. There are four movements of the Magi here and these are also the invitations that that I would like you to pay attention now. So, allow me to tell their story again and discover how God manifests Himself in us today.
The first movement of the Magi is searching. These men, who were probably astrologers, had been observing the heavens and they became engrossed so much by this bright shining star. They came from different places yet the star became a common goal for them. The star filled them with dreams and hopes. That is why, they searched for it and followed it. In their search to what will fulfill their hunger for knowledge and wisdom, it required them to go out and look for it. They needed to leave the comforts of their homes and take the risks of unknown territories. In their search too, they realized that it will be demanding because it will require a big amount of their time and energy, resources and presence.
Along the journey, what they found first was the company of each other. Along the way, they found and built friendship and to journey together. Indeed, it is very important that in our journey, we need also to realize that it is better to journey with others, to have friends to accompany us. The road will be less lonely and life will be filled with laughter when we are with friends.
However, there is something more here too. It was actually the Lord who invited these men. The star that they saw was that glimmer of hope that they were aspiring for. The Lord used the star to lead these men to God who became flesh. That desire and aspiration in their hearts became the entry point of God into their hearts. And because they were open to God’s grace, they were led to Mary and Jesus. They have seen the face of God.
This leads us now to the second movement of prostrating and paying homage. What filled them with knowledge and wisdom as they looked on the face of God in the arms of Mary, they too realized that their knowledge and wisdom were too little to understand this mystery. God became man and he dwells among us, is beyond understanding. This is something that does not need to be understood and something that does not require a wise man to comprehend. This is the reason why these men prostrated themselves and paid homage to the Baby Jesus. When at last they have witnessed God’s manifestation, they too realized their littleness and insignificance of the greatness of God and of the greatness of his love resting in the arms of Mary.
To prostrate and to pay homage are expressions of worship and dependence to God. The three magi remind us that as we also fulfill our dreams and realize our hopes, this should lead us to recognize that we are all indebted to God. God manifests himself in the many good things we achieved and in the many blessings we received.
This recognition of God’s presence leads us to the third movement of the magi and that is the act of offering their gifts. Each of them opened their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gold is a symbol that Jesus is king. Frankincense is a symbol that Jesus is a priest. Myrrh is a symbol that Jesus is a prophet. The act of offering their gifts was an expression of their deep gratitude to God who fulfilled the deepest longing in their hearts.
This tells us that when our heart is truly filled with gratitude because of the many good things that God has done for us, we also respond with generosity. God indeed manifests himself in us when we also learn to open up ourselves and extend ourselves for the goodness of others.
Thus, a heart that is filled with gratitude begins to see life from a different perspective from before. This leads us now to the last and fourth movement of the magi, which is the returning by a different way. After they beheld the face of God and were warned by the angel of the evil intention of Herod, the magi returned to their homes in a different way. This action is certainly filled with so much meaning. Though this literally means that they took a different way, but, encountering God in their life led them also to a complete change of their heart. Their encounter with God made them new persons, living life never the same as before.
Truly, when we allow the Lord to reveal himself to us, the Lord will also transform us and change our perspective in life and our way of living life. This change of perspective will be according to how God sees us and how God sees the world. The child Jesus will surely bring great joy in us that it will forever change our life. Hence, in our encounter with God, let us never be afraid of taking a different path or of changing the way we live our life from being complacent to being active, from being indifferent to being kind and caring. God will lead us to many surprises.
These are the four movements and the four invitations for us. Let me repeat them now for you, so that you may bring these invitations consciously with you today.
- First, search for that something that will give us the fulfillment of our heart. In our search, be with friends and family. Let them journey with us.
- Second, in our discovery of God’s presence, allow ourselves to be embraced by the greatness of God’s presence. Pay him homage and worship God. Never forget to come to the Church and express our affection to the Lord through the gift of our sacraments.
- Third, as we affirm our dependence in God, express also our generosity. Offer our gifts especially to those who are in need of our help. This is a way of expressing our gratitude.
- Fourth, as we encounter the Lord, allow the Lord to transform us, to change our attitude, our perspective in life and the way we live our life. Let the Lord bring freshness in us. Hinaut pa.