The story of the Epiphany is arguably one of the most widely known of the Bible. But because it is so familiar, there is a tendency for us to overlook and therefore oversimplify its full meaning. Even the word Epiphany has dual definitions. It denotes the manifestation of Christ, yet in addition, it connotes a moment of sudden revelation.
Perhaps the unexpected insight of the Epiphany narrative is how well it exemplifies the entire Gospel message. The Church recognizes this, since we hear these same Scripture lines from Matthew regardless of what liturgical cycle we are in. If it is so important that the exact reading be read year after year, then clearly it is worth our efforts to unpack it.
The plot begins with the magi arriving from their foreign land. From astronomers to wise men to kings, Biblical scholars debate the exact vocation of these wanderers. Nonetheless, they are in agreement that the magi set out on their journey once they saw the star twinkling in the sky. What a wonderful depth of truth to be packed into these few details!
We too are invited to model our own spiritual journeys after the magi’s nomadic one. Similar to how they observed the light in the night sky, we are meant to be on the lookout for the presence of the light of the Lord shining in our world. We are called to search for God and to seek out all of the ways the Divine reaches out to us.
But it is not enough to merely notice these things. Comparable to the wisdom of the magi, we are to respond upon recognizing the presence of the Lord. We were created to react back to our Creator – to get up and to go where we are being led. Although traveling the path today may have different challenges, it is no less difficult than the hardships and struggles they faced two thousand years ago.
Upon arriving where we have been called, we are to offer up and surrender ourselves. The magi prostrated themselves and then gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, which was the best of what they had. We are to do the same – to come and adore Him with our worship and sharing of our finest attributes, which are compassion, mercy, and love.
Once encountering the Lord, Matthew writes, the magi departed by another way. This travel tip holds true for us as well. After truly experiencing Jesus Christ in our hearts and in our souls, we can never continue heading down the same route we had been before. We become transformed and changed, and therefore, must also change the direction of our lives. Yet, as we persist and persevere on our earthly spiritual pilgrimage, we may become afraid of navigating the darkness of the strange twists and turns ahead of us. However, we can be confident the familiar light of Christ will always be shining brightly enough for us to follow.
Scott Mussari is the Director of Faith Formation at St. Columban Church in Loveland, Ohio and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Sign Up for Our E-Newsletter!