January 3, 2021
Today, we celebrate another part of the Christmas story as Christ is manifest to the Wise Men. Epiphany is often referred to the “Little Christmas” as the Magi offer the newborn King gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In many parts of the Eastern Church today is their Christmas. Here, in the West, we just continue the joy of December 25th with yet another opportunity to celebrate and to give and receive gifts. In today’s first reading we hear the prophet Isaiah proclaim, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem, your light has come.” In the Epiphany story it was the light of the star that led the Wise Men to the true light of the world, Jesus. He is manifested to the Wise Men as such, and in Matthew’s Gospel, they represent that all peoples have received their Savior as a gift from the Father. And so our Responsorial Psalm today proclaims, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore You.” In St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians he explains this great mystery, “…that the Gentiles, are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” Jesus came for all humanity. This is a central theme throughout Matthew’s Gospel and truly Good News for the whole world. Our Gospel tells the story of the Magi from the East, the Wise Men, following the star. They come to Jerusalem and inquire from King Herod, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star at its rising and have come to adore Him.” Can’t you imagine the look on Herod’s face? He was an insecure despot as it was. He must have been secretly outraged that such a thing would be asked in his presence. After consulting with his learned priests and scribes Herod learns that the prophecy has the Christ, the Messiah, being born in Bethlehem. He sends the Magi to Bethlehem, a few miles from Jerusalem and begins to plot how to defeat this threat to his power. When the Magi find the infant, they do Him homage and offer the three gifts; gold, fit for a king, frankincense, symbolizing prayers rising up to God, and myrrh, the costly perfume used to anoint a body for burial. These three gifts reveal (manifest) Jesus’ identity and mission. The offering of gifts is why Epiphany is part of our Christmas tradition and why in many places today is Christmas.31
Today, as a gift from St. Luke’s, we are inviting parishioners to please take a poinsettia (or two) home. We are grateful to the many who donated to our Annual Memorial Poinsettia Campaign once again this year. As we all saw, the Christmas flowers made our Church absolutely stunning. Thanks one and all for your support.
With today’s Feast of the Epiphany, the Church has one more Sunday in the Christmas season. Next Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Gone are the shepherds and angels and Wise Men. Jesus has grown into manhood and goes to the Jordan River where his cousin is baptizing and asks that He too be baptized to show His solidarity with us. With the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we enter into several weeks of Ordinary Time before beginning the holy season of Lent on Feb. 17th, Ash Wednesday.
Finally today, Praise God! that we have begun rolling out the Covid vaccines. Operation Warp Speed is certainly an accomplishment for modern science in developing this drug in record time. As Doctors, nurses, first responders, and nursing home residents receive the vaccine, it won’t be long before it is available to all of us. I certainly hope and pray that we all trust science and plan to get our shot as soon as possible. I look forward, as I know many of you do as well, to hopefully ending this pandemic soon and returning to life pre-Covid.
God Bless! Happy Little Christmas! Make 2021 a Holy One!
Please continue praying 3 Hail Marys.