Pastor’s Thoughts

Jan 7, 2024

This weekend the church celebrates the “Epiphany”. The word itself means a manifestation, an insight, a
vision etc. The feast is also known as the Feast of the Three Kings. It is for sure, a complex feast. Originating
in the Eastern Church and formed by the mentality of a people whose thought processes differ from our own.
The Epiphany is like a rich Oriental tapestry in which various themes and images are woven and interwoven
but not simply to be seen as a past historical event. Epiphany is a never ending nor exhausting experience
of Jesus Christ that changes lives. The Gospel narrative today expresses this same type
interwoven mystery. On the day of Christ’s birth, the first to receive the Good News were Jewish shepherds
in the fields. Now, at the Epiphany, pagan astrologers, wise men from the East, the Magi, come searching for a
“newborn King of the Jews” by following the light of a star. This event fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy announced in
the First Reading. The contrast of King Herod to the Magi is remarkable: the leader of the Jewish people,
Herod, refuses to accept the news of the Jewish king’s birth and plans to kill him by slaughtering all male
babies under the age of 2 (the Holy Innocents) hoping one of those killed will be this Jewish King. The three
Magi on the other hand, have travelled far searching for this king and eventually find him prostrating themselves in worship before him. Their gifts symbolize their belief: gold, the most precious of metals, is a suitable gift for a king. Frankincense, used in worship, symbolizes the child’s divinity. Myrrh, used in
preparing a body for burial, symbolizes Jesus’ humanity. We recall how after Jesus’ death his body
was anointed with “myrrh and aloes” (Jn 19:3842). Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen had a very interesting
application of today’s feast of the Three Kings in his sermon on the Magi and the Slaughter of the Innocents.
He points to the last line of today’s gospel which reads “They returned back (3 Kings) to their home country by
a different route.” Archbishop Sheen explains, “For no one who experiences Jesus Christ with a good will ever
return the same way he came.” Three pagan kings find the truth, change their lives so much that can never go
back the same way they came. May that same living experience of Jesus Christ continue to change you every
single day of your life so you too can never be the same the Magi.