Saturday, January 6, 2018

Epiphany, Year B, 07.01.2018

Isaiah 60:1-6 / Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 / Matthew 2:1-12
By now we would have settled back into normal routine. The holidays are over, Christmas Day had come and gone, we are already into the new year, all the festive excitement has died down.

So it’s back to work and back to school with appointments and assignments, schedules and what-have-you.

Well, we are looking into the new year and there are targets to set and goals to achieve. All engines are fired up and it’s full speed ahead.

No one would think of taking leave at this time of the year. There is just no mood for this. We have already relaxed enough over the holidays and there is back-log to clear and much to do.

Even for the Church, after this weekend, we are going to take down and keep the Christmas décor. Already they are looking a bit tired and waiting to be cleared.

But just when we thought that things are back to routine, we may notice that the Nativity scene is a bit crowded today, and there are three additional figures there.

And these three figures are quite a contrast compared to the other figures. Their dressing is exotic with rich robes and crowns on their heads and gifts in their hands.

So it’s guest appearance and it’s just for this weekend only, we have the 3 wise men (let’s just take it that there is three) aka the 3 Magis, or the 3 kings (and that is where we have that song “We three Kings of Orient are”).

And sure enough they were from the Orient as the gospel tells us that they are from the East.

They saw “His star” rising and they have come to do homage to the infant king of the Jews.

And that perturbed king Herod and the whole of Jerusalem. How was it that he didn’t know that a new king was born!

But there was another group of “wise” men who knew – the chief priests and the scribes. And they can even say “At Bethlehem in Judaea” – Well, they knew, but they just sat on it. They did nothing about it.

And so king Herod sent the wise men from the east to Bethlehem, to find out more about this infant king. His motive was to use them as his informants.

And when they found the infant Jesus, they did Him homage and opening their treasures, they presented Him with the 3 symbolic gifts: gold to honour His kingship, frankincense to worship His divinity, myrrh to acknowledge His humanity.

So Christmas is the great celebration of the birth of our Saviour, but of significance is the celebration of the Epiphany when the Saviour and King was manifested or revealed. Epiphany means manifestation or revelation.

The wise men from the east may seem to be just making a guest appearance in the whole Christmas celebration, but they are probably the first to know about the birth of Jesus, through the sign of the star. But they were also the last to come and pay homage to Him.

They saw His star rising. There were probably many other stars in the night sky, but this star called out to them and they responded.

It was a journey across barren desert sands and harsh conditions but they had to stay together because they only had each other along the journey.

The star was not always there to guide them and lead them and that was why they ended up at the palace of king Herod and were even used by him.

But they eventually found who they were looking for and by their gifts, they became witnesses of the royalty, divinity and humanity of the infant Jesus.

And truly they were wise men. Of course they were wise enough to know which star to follow.

But they were also wise because they learned many things from their difficulties in their search.

And we can learn from them. One is about the star (Jesus). In this world there are movie stars, pop stars, sports stars, we may even want to be a star. But there is only one star that will lead us to God.
About the gold. All that glitters and all we treasure must be offered to Jesus because our true treasure is in heaven.

Frankincense is used in worship. We offer worship to the one true God, no one else.

Myrrh has medicinal properties. It is offered to Jesus because Jesus is our Healer who will heal us and save us from our sins.

The wise men may be the latecomers or last-comers but we still want to celebrate with them. Because they found who they were truly searching for.

And they have this to tell us: We too will find Jesus. We just have to learn from them.