December 30, 2014 // Uncategorized

With repentance hope shines in our hearts

Feast of the Epiphany
Mt 2:1-12

In Greek, “epiphany” means God is visible to humans. In celebrating the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord on this weekend, the Church offers us the lessons to be drawn from this great feast, namely that in Jesus, the Son of God, the almighty and infinite, literally was recognized as such by sincere and honest strangers.

The first reading is from the third section of the book of Isaiah. When this passage was written many, maybe most, Jews were badly discouraged. The pagan Babylonians, ignorant of the true God, had invaded the Hebrew kingdoms several generations earlier.

As a result of their conquest, these two Hebrew kingdoms, Judah and Israel, collapsed. Never again in ancient times at least would God’s chosen people govern themselves.

In addition, in the conquest, many of God’s people had been killed. To compound the misery, the Babylonians took many survivors to Babylon itself where the Hebrew refugees, and their descendants, languished for generations.

Freedom finally came, and with it return to the homeland, but it was a hollow achievement.

The Jews returned to their ancestral homeland only to find conditions quite bleak. The land was sterile and lifeless. After all the enthusiasm that God at last had spared them and was liberating them from their misery in Babylon, they came home only to find a dreary and unhappy place.

Not surprisingly, then, many were very disappointed, to say the least. Nevertheless, this prophet eloquently sings his promise that Jerusalem, the ancient heart of Jewish life, will rise again in majesty and in prosperity.

The Epistle to the Ephesians furnishes the second reading. This reading reveals the circumstances that prevailed in the first decades of Christianity.

Jesus was Jewish, as were all the Apostles. The first followers of Christ were Jewish. The Lord’s message rested very much on the revelation of Moses and the prophets.

Yet, Paul and others took the Gospel far and wide, in the process finding many gentiles who also yearned to know the Lord Jesus. Obviously, Christianity’s appeal was not confined to Jews. It was for all who earnestly search for God’s peace and mercy.

St. Matthew’s Gospel supplies the last reading. It is the story of the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem where they paid homage to the newborn Christ. (Matthew’s Gospel is the only one of the four Gospels to recall this event.)

Scholars still debate exactly who the Magi were and from where they came. At times, they are called “Wise Men.” At other times they are called kings.

Regardless, they were learned, as learning was measured at the time. They came from a place faraway. They longed to know God. They found God in the infant in Bethlehem.

Their discovery was not accidental. God led them to Bethlehem by showing them a great star in the sky and by protecting them from the treachery of Herod.


This Epiphany of the Lord recalls one of the most expressive, and best known, stories of the infancy of Jesus. It has an important message for us today.

The lesson is that we are incomplete unless God is in our lives. If we realize our need for God, and earnestly seek God, God will guide us.

Separating us from God is our own sin or indifference. Serious sin distances us from God, but it also dulls our realization that we need God. Without God, we cannot have eternal life.

All is not lost, however. We can bridge the distance between us and God by admitting that we have sinned, and by asking God’s forgiveness for sinning.

If we repent, then the light of hope will shine in our hearts, just as the star guided the Magi to the Lord. Life, not death, will await us.

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