The Epiphany – January 6

Detail from Fra Angelico’s The Adoration of the Magi

Detail from Fra Angelico’s The Adoration of the Magi

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Lectionary: 20). Click here to view the readings.

Summary

Central Idea: Christ’s redemption is for all. Doctrine: Christ has come to save every person who wants to be saved. Practical Application: Personal apostolate is our participation in the saving mission of the Church.

Central Idea: Christ’s redemption is for all

Reading 1: Is 60:1-6:

  • For the Jews, Jerusalem stands for their own redemption.
  • God’s salvation for the Jews is portrayed in terms of light.
  • The people of the world—the Gentiles—will respond by thronging to Jerusalem with tribute, including gold and frankincense.
  • The Jews scattered in the diaspora will return.
  • We Christians read this as a prophecy of the Nativity of Christ. Jerusalem stands for the Church triumphant, for the Kingdom of God fulfilled, for heaven.
  • Gentiles—the Magi—bring the Christ Child gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
  • We Gentiles do bring our tribute, our wealth, before Christ: Our intellects, our wills, our love, our family life and friendships, our work, everything.
  • When we are not sleepwalking through life and realize what is really going on, we too are radiant at what we see, and our hearts throb and overflow. Joy ought to accompany us at all times, even during hardships.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13:

  • Christ fulfills the promises of the Jewish prophets because his salvation is for the whole world.
  • Many of the “mighty” have given Christ their homage, beginning with the Magi.
  • The primary “justice” Christ the King brings to the earth is the restoration of original holiness and justice, which Adam and Eve lost for the human race.
    • Restoration of original holiness means we can be in a right relationship again with God: We can be friends of God and his adopted children.
    • Restoration of original justice means we can begin even now to be in a right relationship with ourselves, with others, and with the created world. In other words, the transformation will begin in which we do not experience constant inner conflict, are not always suspicious of others, and are not always afraid of suffering and death.
    • Thank God that we are all poor. We are the ones Christ came to redeem.

Second Reading: Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6:

  • “The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” In other words, Christ didn’t just come to save his own people, the Jews, but all human beings.
  • This is the reason why God inspired the pagan Magi to bring their gifts to the Christ Child.

Gospel Mt 2:1-12:

  • Herod is the anti-king, the stark opposite of what God promised in Isaiah and of the kind of king Christ presented himself as.
  • The gospel is for the Gentiles, too; that is, the non-Jews, all of us.
  • Jesus has identified himself in some way with every person (GS 22 § 5; cf. § 2; CCC 618). He identified himself with every unborn child and every baby who would die of natural causes or by murder. Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, and infanticide, abortion, and infant sacrifice—all these existed in the ancient world and have continued ever since due to sin.

Doctrine: Christ has come to save every person who wants to be saved

  • The truth that Christ is the savior of the world is clearly present in today’s readings.
  • This is how the Catechism states it:
    • CCC 1260: “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery” (GS 22 § 5. Cf. LG 16; AG 7). Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved.”
    • But this salvation is not “automatic.” One must seek the truth and do the will of God according to his “understanding.”

Practical Application: Evangelization, Apostolate, or Witnesses for Christ

  • Christ’s admonition to the Apostles to evangelize applies to each one of us, too: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt. 28:19-20)
  • Apostolate is our participation in bringing the Gospel to others. The New Evangelization is the call to reintroduce the Faith in cultures in which it previously existed. In other words, in our own culture.
  • Before a Christian can share the Faith, he or she must know and live it. In fact, unless one knows and lives the Faith, why would one even want to share it? The task is to show others how good Christ is and how desirable it is to be united to him.
  • To want to share the Faith and to be able to share it requires an interior life. This means having a life of prayer. A life of prayer is a regular encounter between you and God.
    • Prayer means talking to God.
    • Prayer means listening to what God has to say to you. God speaks through his Sacred Scriptures, the doctrines of the Faith, the moral law, the inspirations he sends you in prayer, and the circumstances of your life.
      • For example, if you just had a baby, isn’t God telling you all kinds of things by that very fact?
      • Apostolate is primarily done by example. As St. Francis said, “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.” He meant that the witness of living the Faith comes first.
      • Then one should be prepared to explain or defend the Faith with words. Pope Bl. John Paul II encouraged even young people to do this work: “[H]ow are you to be recognized as true disciples of Christ? By the fact that you have ‘love for one another’ (Jn 13:35) after the example of his love: a love that is freely given, infinitely patient and denied to no one.” (1 Cor 13:4–7; Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the XII World Youth Day, 15 August 1996)
      • But apostolate takes initiative. Christ did not instruct his Apostles to wait for people to come to Jerusalem to lay their treasures at the Apostles’ feet. Instead, the Apostles were to go out into the world and lay their treasures before those without faith.
      • There are many “Magi” around us, people we might justly recognize as better than us, but who don’t yet know, or who have forgotten, or who have even rejected the Faith. This is our field of apostolate. And the person might be one’s spouse, child, parent or sibling, friend, or co-worker.

 

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