The child is revealed

2 January 2022 - Epiphany Year C

What’s being revealed to us twelve days after Christmas, because this is what Epiphany means: something is shown, or revealed to us. We’re all in holiday mode and then these Magi, these wise men appear, following a star.

But weren’t they there at the crib? So, what are they doing turning up now? (It’s been suggested they arrived quite some time after the birth, but that’s not what is being revealed.) It’s a vividly dramatic story filled with light and intense darkness too. The wise men come from the East, from far away, strangers led by a star, not knowing where it might lead them. We might wonder what star would we follow, setting out, not knowing where we’re going? Have our lives been interrupted at some point? When they arrive in Jerusalem they ask the authorities, “Where is the infant king of the Jews?”  

This causes great consternation and Herod calls together the religious leaders who tell him that, according to prophecy, this king was to be born just down the road in Bethlehem and show no further interest. We understand their reluctance: we too have been given this gift, but often prefer to keep it under wraps and just do the decent thing. 

Meanwhile, Herod is alert to what the wise men say because he wants to eliminate this possible threat to his throne. Again, we know something of Herod’s instinct, the fear underlying it, the need to be in control. The wise men listen and take their leave, guided by what they have heard.

Now, the star reappears overhead and filled with joy, they’re drawn on by its light, until it stops over a house, in Bethlehem. They go in and seeing Mary and her child they open their hearts, and ‘do him homage’. Who, in our lives, are we able to revere, to open our hearts to, putting aside whatever else, whether money, status, or influence?  Then, they open their treasures and offer him gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The wisdom of the wise men leads us to this.  What are we able to offer him from our treasures, our lives, and so to those whom we love and respect? At the gospel’s end, warned in a dream, they find another way home, leaving behind Herod and his enablers. In a world full of shadows and threat, a light still leads them. 

As we learn to open our hearts a little, we come before him hesitantly with the gift of ourselves and ‘do him homage’. In doing so, we will begin to know the wonder of Isaiah in the first reading and begin to share in the ‘same inheritance’, as the second reading says. In Matthew’s gospel it’s the Magi who first reveal to us we are no longer strangers to one another, that we belong to one another, in Jesus Christ. What’s revealed to us in this child, is the glory of God being with us, now and forever.                                         

 Damian Coleridge

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