Epiphany (A)
January 05, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Solemnity of the Epiphany (A)

 

 

 

Collect

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.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 

Proper Chants

Introit

Behold, the Sovereign Lord is coming; kingship, government and power are in his hands. V/.  Endow the King with your judgment, O God, and the King's son with your righteousness. Ps/. O God, give your judgment to the king, *to a king’s son your justice, that he may judge your people injustice, *and your poor in right judgment.

Offertory

The kings of Tarshish and the islands shall offer presents; the kings of the Arabians and of Sheba shall bring gifts; all the kings of the earth shall adore him, all nations shall serve him. Ps/. O God, give your judgment to the king, *to a king’s son your justice, that he may judge your people injustice, *and your poor in right judgment.

Communion

 

We have seen his star in the East, and we have come with our gifts, to worship the Lord. Ps/. O God, give your judgment to the king, *to a king’s son your justice, that he may judge your people injustice, *and your poor in right judgment.

 

Liturgy of the Word

 

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms. Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Mid'ian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6

Assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'" Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

Catena Nova

The Magi, the firstfruits of the Gentiles, came to see and worship Christ, and were found worthy not only to receive their own salvation but also to be a sign of the salvation of all nations. Let us then celebrate this day with the greatest devotion, worshipping the Lord Jesus in his heavenly dwelling, who was worshiped by those firstfruits of ours as he lay in an inn. They venerated in him what was still to come; we venerate its fulfilment. The firstfruits of the nations worshipped him at his mother’s breast; now the nations worship him seated at the right hand of God the Father.  (St. Augustine of Hippo)

O the glory of this day, eclipsing the very sun in its splendour, the culmination of centuries of waiting! The revelation to which the angels looked forward, the secret hidden from seraphim, cherubim, and every heavenly spirit has been disclosed to our generation. What former ages perceived in figures and images, we see in reality. The God who spoke to the people of Israel through Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest of the prophets now speaks to us through his Son. Mark the difference between the Old Testament and New! In the Old Testament God spoke in a storm cloud; in the New he speaks in the clear, calm light of day. In the Old Testament God appeared in a bush; in the New he is born of a virgin. In the Old Testament God was present as a fire consuming the sins of his people; in the New he is present as a man who forgives them - or rather, as the Lord who pardons his servants, since no one can forgive sin but God alone. (St. Maximus of Turin)

Today is the birthday of the Church among those pagans who saw the star and understood its message; it is therefore the day on which this queen comes from the ends of the earth to see the face of the one described in the words: Behold a greater than Solomon here. Greater indeed is he than Solomon, for Solomon was a peacemaker only, whereas the Lord Jesus makes peace by being peace incarnate. As the Apostle says: He is our peace; he has made both Jew and pagan one. This queen of ours, then, is well named Jerusalem, Vision of Peace, since she hastens to see the King who is himself peace in person. (St. Aelred of Rievaulx)

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead me Thou on! The night is dark, and I am far from home, Lead Thou me on! Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step is enough for me. I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou shouldst lead me on; I loved to choose and see my path, but now lead Thou me on! I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears, pride ruled my will: remember not past years. So long Your power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on, o'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till the night is gone; and with the morn those angel faces smile which I have loved long since, and lost awhile. (St. John Henry Newman)

In the people who are gathered around the manger, we have an analogy for the church and its development. Representatives of the old royal dynasties to whom the savior of the world was promised and representatives of faithful people constitute the relationship between the Old and the New Covenants. The kings from the far-away East indicate the Gentiles for whom salvation is to come from Judea. So here there is already "the Church made up of Jews and Gentiles." The kings at the manger represent seekers from all lands and peoples. Grace led them before they ever belonged to the external church. There lived in them a pure longing for truth that did not stop at the boundaries of native doctrines and traditions. Because God is truth and because he wants to be found by those who seek him with their whole hearts, sooner or later the star had to appear to show these wise men the way to truth. And so they now stand before the Incarnate Truth, bow down and worship it, and place their crowns at its feet, because all the treasures of the world are but a little dust compared to it. (St. Edith Stein/Benedicta of the Cross)

The Epiphany…brings to completion what the feast of Christmas began. The whole scheme of redemption is reality in grace; we see this, as we “celebrate with solemn rite with the vision of our mind now purified.” The redemption has become real, in us and upon us. The Lord has come to visit us, has made us clean, has joined us to himself most deeply. Born a man, he has shown himself as God, has rescued us and espoused himself to us…. We have seen God. We have become his children. (Aemiliana Löhr)

The Christmas mystery has two parts: the nativity and the epiphany…In the first, we commemorate God’s humble entrance into human life,…and in the second, God’s manifestation to the world… The first only happens in order that the second may happen…The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because God’s manifestation in the world must be through us. Every Christian is, as it were, part of the dust-laden air which shall radiate the glowing epiphany of God, catch and reflect God’s golden light. (Evelyn Underhill)

 

 

Homily

 SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY (A)

   Readings: Is. 60:1-6; Ep. 3:2-3,5-6; Mt. 2:1-12

A Star Is Born

            For many of us, memories of Christmas past may have already faded, yet today reawakens our minds and hearts to the wonder of Christmas once more.  It’s Epiphany -- the Twelfth Day of Christmas -- when the light of a star made known to the nations the Infant Savior.  Isaiah’s joyful vision is now fulfilled: [Our] light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon [us]….Upon [us] the Lord shines, and over [us] appears his glory (Cf. I).  Whatever shadows of this world we might pass through, this feast promises we will indeed reach the brightness of our eternal home (cf. Collect Vigil Mass).

            The Magi saw this by the guidance of a star: a star subject to much scrutiny.  Like those astrologers who came to Jerusalem from the east (G), latter-day charters of the heavens are still trying to find it.  Some say the star was a supernova, others a comet, still others, a rare con­junction of the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.

            But scientific precision is not Matthew’s concern.  He places the star in the heavens so we might approach Mary’s Child in the same spirit of faith which stirred the Magi.  For their journey is like the path all must pursue who seek the Christ.

            The star of Bethlehem invites us to travel along with the Magi, looking for something new on the horizon of our lives: signs God is still involved in the course of human life and history.  So we are challenged to see God’s new purpose unfolding before our very eyes.  This past year such stars appeared as drug overdose deaths in the United States began to decline after three decades’ of escalation; as global poverty fell to record lows with 2019 seeing the lowest prevalence of extreme poverty ever recorded in human history at less than 8 percent, and as one in every three Americans was living in a community or state that is transitioning to or has already achieved 100% clean energy: All these things shining new light on the horizon dispelling the shadows of this world.

            But we sometimes forget what happened to that star guiding the Magi.  We don’t remember how it set while the Magi traveled to Bethlehem.  We have this idea the star hovered over the Magi from the time they set out till it came and stopped over the place where the child was.  But that’s not what the Bible says.  Matthew says the star’s rising in the East was followed by its setting.­  It rose once more only after the Magi met with King Herod.  You can imagine their dismay at losing sight of what led them in the first place to find the new-born king of the Jews. No wonder they were overjoyed at seeing the star when it finally appeared again (cf. G).

            Much like our own journey through life is marked by similar stages, now light, now dark.  At times, the light shines so brightly we have only to follow, sure to reach our goal.  Other times, we see but dimly, unsure of finding our way, tempted to turn back.  For as soon as new “stars” arise, they seem to dim, if not disappear altogether.  So while the number of overdose deaths has begun a slow decline, they still exceed annual deaths from car crashes, AIDS or guns in the United States. And in 2019, some 70 percent of the world’s poor still live in Africa, up from 50 percent five years ago.  And for the third year in a row, carbon emissions from fossil fuels have hit a record high.

            Yet when the forces of darkness seem most likely to dim our most enthralling lights, we are reminded of the star which reappeared, and redirected, the Magi along their way.  For no matter what obscures our vision, we believe, like Isaiah, a day is coming when [we] shall be radiant at what [we] see, our hearts [throbbing and overflowing] (cf. I). And in the meantime, we persevere, like the Magi, in our diligent search for God’s presence in our lives and our world.  Until, our [own] pilgrimage ended, we [too] will find the Lord in the glory of heaven (Solemn Blessing).  And with the Magi, prostrate ourselves and do him homage, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever (G).