The Day of Epiphany has come, and though it is eclipsed in Western Christianity by Christmas, it is likely the older of the festivals that celebrate the revealing of God's presence in human form. The Gospel reading for today comes from Matthew 2:1-12, a passage that speaks of the visit of the Magi, those sages from the east -- likely Zoroastrians, who come to pay homage to the one who was born to reveal God's presence in the world. Let us read this passage and ask ourselves, what does it say to us about God's presence in the world and how should we respond?
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “ Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him. ”3 When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. 4 He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They said, “ In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
- 6 You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
- by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
- because from you will come one who governs,
7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “ Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him. ” 9 When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route. (Common English Bible)
- who will shepherd my people Israel. ”
Here in this passage we see two contrasting responses -- one is that of Herod, who fears this revelation, and plots to rid himself of a rival. The other response is that of the magi who bring gifts to honor this one who reveals the light of God in the world.
I invite you to contemplate the meaning of God's Epiphany in the person of Jesus God in prayer:
Lord God of the nations,
we have seen the star of your glory rising in splendor.
The radiance of your incarnate Word
pierces the night that covers the earth
and signals the dawn of justice and peace.
May his brightness illumine our lives
and beckon all nations to walk as one in your light.
We ask this through Jesus Christ your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
in the splendor of eternal light, God forever and ever. Amen.
Chalice Worship , p. 105.