The Epiphany of the Lord
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13 (11)
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
January 3, 2021
On Christmas we heard the angel deliver “good news of great joy” to the shepherds, “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”
This truly is “good news of great joy.” So much so that we continue to celebrate Christmas as a season. Christmas is too important to celebrate as just a single day. We will continue our Christmas season till next Sunday when we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.
In Jesus’ birth prophecies from the Old Testament are fulfilled. Isaiah foretold of those who would come bearing gifts of gold and frankincense.
Our psalm today speaks of the kings who will come to offer gifts. The psalm also says, “All kings shall pay him homage.” These are fulfilled in the visit of the Magi.
The magi were not Jews. They saw the star that signified the birth of Jesus at its rising. They go to Jerusalem to inquire about the newborn king of the Jews (where else would one look for the newborn king of the Jews).
The response of the magi is to be overjoyed. They are not Jews but they embrace the birth of Jesus as a sacred moment. They are willing to travel great distance and to offer gifts.
Turning to King Herod, his response was very different from the magi. He should have been the one rejoicing. Instead, “he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”
Why was Herod “greatly troubled” Because he was selfish and saw Jesus as a threat to his power. Immediately, he wanted to get rid of Jesus.
Perhaps more surprisingly, we are told all of Jerusalem was also troubled. They should be rejoicing for Jesus is the messiah they have been waiting for. Perhaps they were troubled because they weren’t sure if Jesus was really the one. Or perhaps they were troubled because they feared that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and they knew they weren’t ready.
What would your reaction be?
Of course, since we come to church now, it would seem easy to say we would rejoice and immediately go to Jesus. We know the whole story. We know that Jesus does indeed save us from our sins.
Do we live like we believe?
Returning to the scene with Herod, he inquires of the priests and scribes as to where the Messiah was to be born. The answer is Bethlehem. So, he sends the magi there and tells them to bring back word of where he can find Jesus so he too can “do him homage.”
That is a lie. Herod plans to kill Jesus.
The magi, guided by the star, the light of Christ, find Jesus, “prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Isaiah spoke of the light of the Lord. He tells Jerusalem to “Rise up in splendor” for their light has come, for “the glory of the Lord” shines on them.
Isaiah goes on to say, “Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow.”
Jesus continues to bring light to the world.
The star was the light that guided the magi to baby Jesus.
We receive the light of Christ at Baptism. We need this light. We lived in the darkness of sin. We live in a world with suffering. Jesus brings light to the darkness. Jesus brings light to our sufferings. Knowing Jesus changes the way we look at the world.
What do you do with the light of Christ?
Do you let it shine? Or do you keep it hidden under a basket, only letting the light out when you come to church?
The Lord wants to be our light at all times. When we face suffering, the Lord wants us to know He is with us and He wants to lead us through the suffering with his light.
Jesus gives us light for our own good but not solely for our own good. Paul speaks to the Ephesians “of the stewardship of God’s grace” that was given to him for their benefit.
Likewise, Isaiah says to Jerusalem, “Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.”
Jesus does not give each of us his Light solely for our own benefit. Jesus calls us to share the light with the whole world.
Do you let the world see the Light of Christ shining within you?
This might include speaking to others about Jesus. However, it starts with letting the Lord fill us with joy and us letting that joy be seen.
This isn’t always easy. We have our difficult moments. We get grumpy, at least I know I get grumpy sometimes. This is exactly when we need to embrace the light and let it shine. Thus others see that we really do indeed believe.
Lord, we live in a difficult world, a world with sin and suffering. Help us see your light and to share that light with the whole world.