The Epiphany Of The Lord
Fr. Peter Robinson
Preached: January 6, 2023
Trust the star, to bring you to the SON
* Matthew 2:1-12 / The Epiphany of the Lord
In the first year that I lived in Austria (in Europe) in the mid 1990s, I quickly noticed something I could not explain. Often, over the doors in my apartment building I would see some sort of code written in white chalk. The code was a mix of letters and digits. For example, I would see “19 + C + B + M + 95.”
I could not, for the life of me, figure that out; I was mystified. It was only after some investigation that I discovered the letters and digits were linked with Epiphany. These were Catholic homes that had been visited by a local priest at Epiphany. He had come to bless the apartment. Then, he had written the date, and then the initials of the three wise men, in white chalk over the outside door frame. So, I was seeing the first part of the year (19) + C (Caspar) + B (Balthasar) + M (Melchior) + the second part of the year (95).
Today, with Catholics (and fellow Christians) around the world, we celebrate The Epiphany of the Lord. On this day, we remember our Lord’s manifestation (his showing, his presentation) to the world as a young child.
This Jesus of Nazareth is presented as 1) Saviour of the world. Later, he will be presented as 2) Messiah, and as 3) Son of God.
At Epiphany, in particular, we focus on our Lord as Saviour of the world. Why? Because it was wise men from the East (the Magi) who came to adore the child Jesus. These mysterious visitors, these Magi (and the Bible does not tell us that there were 3), represented the neighbouring pagan religions around ancient Israel.
Pagan religions that did not have the OT Scriptures as their spiritual guide. The Magi had just a star, a light in the darkness. Yet, they followed that light (at considerable risk, thinking of travel in the Ancient Near East).
The light they could see, opened into a vector of greater light! These Magi responded to the light available to them.
This reminds me of an experience I had when I was 17. I spent the summer working in Northern Ontario.
A highlight of that time was a visit to an underground mine. We banged and rumbled our way down into the darkness in a freight elevator. Till we were hundreds of metres underground, in a large mine shaft carved straight into the rock. Then, the tour guide asked us, a group of 17-year-olds, if we would like him to turn out the lights. So, what do you suppose a bunch of teenage guys are going to say to a question like that? In an instant, for the first time in my life, I experienced “utter” darkness; as in, not one photon of light.
Now, imagine in that darkness, how little light it would take to catch the human eye. And at that point, a person could turn TO that tiniest glimmer of light, or away FROM it — a binary choice. The Magi in today’s story turned to such spiritual light as they had (before meeting Christ). That light, in turn, brought them to more light; indeed, to the Christ Child, to the creator source of all light.
Consider the irony, then, of these words from a hymn for Epiphany: “Why, impious Herod, shouldst thou fear, because the Christ is come so near? He who doth heavenly kingdoms grant, thine earthly realm can never want.” Our Lord came not for Herod’s throne — but rather for the nations. He wants the worship of the world, of all peoples, including you and me.
As I close, a quick question, then: Are you responding to the spiritual light that God has given to you? Or are you turning away from it? The Magi would say to us, right now: “Whatever darkness you find yourself in, trust the star, to bring you to the SON.”