At the Mass during the day on this Solemnity of the Epiphany, we pray:
“O God, who on this day revealed Your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star, grant in your mercy that we, who know you already by faith, may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory.”
The event of Christmas was made known to the people of the ‘East’ through the appearance of the Star of Christ: the Star which would guide the three wise men to travel to Jerusalem and pay homage to the newborn King. This Epiphany - the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles - reveals the scope of His salvific mission. Christ came that all men (including you and me) might be saved. He would entrust the same task of ensuring the universal salvation of all people to his disciples. Thus he says to them;
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
He is very confident that the mystery of His incarnation and glorious passion have brought about the salvation of all the human race: and He would proudly declare, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”(Jn 12:32)
At His divine manifestation to the gentiles as the Savior - not just of the Jews but of the whole world - the Magi traveled from the East to Bethlehem where they offered to the infant Jesus the special gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh as a complete acknowledgement that though He was born in a lowly state in a manger, Jesus was, in fact, truly the King of Heaven and Earth.
At every Mass, the priest invites all (“brethren/brothers and sisters”) to pray “that your sacrifice and mine will be acceptable to God the Father Almighty”. The priest actually invites us to do this, because the same Jesus who was born in a stable - in a manger - 2000 years ago is also present with us and for us on the Altar of Sacrifice. Just as the Star of Christ led the Magi to Bethlehem, the Word of God which we hear at Mass is supposed to guide and lead us from the “east” of our lives to Jesus on the Altar of the Holy Sacrifice: and once there, to offer Him, perhaps not gold but the gift of our sincere thanksgiving! There to offer Him, perhaps not frankincense, but the gifts of our joys and sorrows, our success and challenges, the gifts of our yesterday, today, and the future. There to offer Him, perhaps not myrrh, but the total gift of our very selves!
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass might be ‘boring’ to us when we have not brought something to offer to Christ our Savior. It is the excitement to pay homage and offer Him gifts that moves the wise men to embark on their journey from the East to Bethlehem. Unless we have the same excitement - unless we have that desire to always pay homage and make a total gift of ourselves to Christ, the sacrifice of the Mass will continue to be mere routine exercise without deeply touching our souls!
The reality of the Epiphany should awaken in us a sense of a Christ of Yesterday, Today, and Forever!! A sense of Christ for all people!! A sense of Christ for you and for me!!
When the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God falls on the first day of the year, it should create in us a desire to try and follow her virtue of faithfulness throughout the whole year. There is no doubt that our Blessed Mother - the mother of God and the mother of the newborn King - is a faithful woman. Her faithfulness to God aided her virginity immensely, and her faithful Yes to God won for her the privilege of becoming the Mother of God - and so we honor her today in a special way.
But her faithfulness should also be a model for us especially as we walk into the year of our Lord 2017. The first of January is always a time of making resolutions. We resolve to put away our old selves and put on the new. We resolve to get a lot of things right in the coming year: our spiritual commitments, sacramental and prayer lives, Liturgy and Mass, amending our moral lives, making our families a true domestic church, and above all in an effort to become the disciples we are called to be.
Indeed, we make wonderful resolutions at this time every year, but unfortunately, most of us don’t maintain them beyond the first quarter of the year. The reason is simple: we often focus on being successful rather than on being faithful to our resolutions! When we focus only on whether we succeed in our resolutions, chances are that we won’t make it very far, because when we’re faced with even a little slacking along the way, we are easily discouraged! If, however, we choose the route of faithfulness in living out our resolutions for the year, we are bound to persevere regardless of what winds may blow or what tempests may rage! We will rise up, pick ourselves up, and faithfully stagger on!
But who will teach us how to be faithful, if not Mary who is the epitome of faithfulness herself?! From whom shall we imitate how to remain faithful in our yearly resolutions if not from the one who comes forth as the morning rising: fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array!
May our faithful Mother of God pray for us - that we may faithfully maintain our humble resolutions this 2017! Amen.
God bless you all,