Epiphany (B)
January 07, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








May the splendor of your majesty, O Lord, we pray,
shed its light upon our hearts,
that we may pass through the shadows of this world
and reach the brightness of our eternal home.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Is 60:1-6  

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 72:1-2,7-8,100-11,12-13

Second Reading Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace 
that was given to me for your benefit, 
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations 
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Alleluia Mt 2:2 

Gospel Mt 2:1-12 

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod, 
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 
"Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage."
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled, 
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, 
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, 
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel."

Then Herod called the magi secretly 
and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 
"Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word, 
that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, 
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures 
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 
they departed for their country by another way.

Catena Nova

If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored – for they saw a man and they acknowledged God.  (St John Chrysostom)

The gifts brought by the wise men reveal hidden mysteries concerning Christ. To offer gold is to proclaim his kingship, to offer incense is to adore his godhead, and to offer myrrh is to acknowledge his mortality. (St. Odilo of Cluny)
We never have to appear in God’s presence empty handed. We always have gifts to share with others. They are gifts God has given us. Didn’t he give them to us so that we might share them? If you follow the star of faith you will not only find Christ, but will realize you have found him as you share the gifts you have already received. They may be simple gifts but they give life eternal. (St. Thomas of Villanova)
The star came to rest over the place where the child lay. When they saw this the Magi were filled with great joy. Do you want to welcome that joy into your heart? Then you have to be prepared to see Christ where he is truly found and to worship God in his real dwelling place….Where do we find God, our saving God, today? The answer isn’t that we find God in Bethlehem. We find God in those who need a cup of water or a place to lay their head. We find God in a pregnant girl who has no place in which to bring forth her child. Do you leap for joy when you find yourself face to face with such a person? If not then you haven’t let the Magi and the star guide you to the place where the Christ is, and where he awaits your adoration and your gifts. Isn’t that what Christ himself has taught us? Isn’t the wonder the fact that God reveals Godhead in the lowliness of humanity—not only once but continually. (St. Basil the Great)
How have wise men become such fools as to adore a child, whose age and whose relations’ poverty alike deserve contempt? They have become fools, that they may be wise.… They fall on their faces, they revere Him as King, they worship Him as God. Of a truth He, Who led them hither, has instructed them too; He, Who urged them on by means of the star without, has Himself taught them in their inmost heart.  (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)
A new year has begun. During this year, too, all the paths from east to west, from morning until evening, lead on and on as far as the eye can see, through the deserts of life, with all its changes. But these paths can be turned into the blessed pilgrimage to the absolute, the journey to God. Set out, my heart, take up the journey ! The star shines. You can't take much with you on the journey. And you will lose much on the way. Let it go. Gold of love, incense of yearning, myrrh of suffering – these you certainly have with you. He shall accept them. And we shall find him.  (Karl Rahner)

The story of the Magi shows the new life which has appeared within the rich texture of our normal experience, casting its purifying radiance upon the whole existence of man, the Light of the world, not the sanctuary lamp of a well-appointed church.  Cozy religious exclusiveness is condemned in this mystery…. The Epiphany means the free pouring out of a limitless light – the Light of the World – not its careful communication to those whom we hold worthy to receive it. (Evelyn Underhill)



     "Unidentified aerial phenomena" have been in the news a lot lately.  It's the Pentagon's newer term for UFOs.  Seems the government has a lot of info on, well, whatever they are.  A whistleblower came forward last year by the name of David Grusch, a former intelligence officer, who claims there have been multiple retrievals of crashed UAPs of "non-human" space craft along with alien "biologics."  The military industrial complex, in addition to decades of cover-up and disinformation campaigns, so he says, have been busy reverse engineering extraterrestrial materials funded by enormous sums of money secretly pirated from government sources.  All of which led to public hearings in July by the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the UAP Disclosure Act was signed into law by the President right before Christmas as part of the defense spending bill.  
     Now "disclosure" is just as good a translation of  "epiphany" as any.  The same could be said of the word "phenomenon," meaning an "appearance."  Indeed, today's feast is all about the Divine Disclosure Project, including its very own UAP — the Star of Bethlehem — which researchers have been trying to identify for centuries beginning with those astrologers from the East we call the Magi.   But literal approaches to the Epiphany icon Matthew writes are rather beside the point.  And despite the art and music they have inspired, his interests I think really lay elsewhere. 
     For the Epiphany gospel, it seems to me,  is all about an encounter between the Christ Child and peoples who might otherwise have remained alien to each other.  Matthew's imaginative portrayal  is given its deeper significance by Paul who speaks of a mystery hidden in the eternal designs of God, something so far-reaching it had be to made known to [him]by revelation.  A mystery, he says, not made known to people in other generations [but which has] now been revealed to [God's] holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Cf. II) 
     In other words, Epiphany manifests for the first time the universal scope of the Christian religion, far beyond the confines of Palestine, symbolized by the Magi from the East.   And the church has struggled ever since with just how far those confines might reach.  Such is the "Phenomenon" identified for us today as brought to earth by the Only-Begotten Son of God, a light for the nations (Cf. Collect and Preface).
     Those struggles for inclusion, of course, are rooted in a divine revelation which, by its very nature, will always have something about it to confound us.  It is, after all, mystery.  It's possible the Magi were left wondering if they read their star charts correctly, wondering what the future could hold for such a Child, once Herod realized their deception and set about murdering the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem: Herod who was a master of disinformation, attempting himself to deceive the Magi about his real intentions toward the Child,  the person most threatened by Disclosure.
     So we might ask if Matthew's tale was in the "interest of full disclosure," as they say. Well, not really, because there's always more to the story.  It continues to evolve in time and space.  God has unfinished business with humanity and, no doubt, the universe at large.  The plan Paul got wind of is far from fully disclosed and, for all we know, Magi from the East are the least exotic visitors heading our way.  And if they do arrive — or have already — we'll have to factor the consequences into the Mystery, won 't we? 
     But we don't have to wait unto then.  However more complex the Cosmos might be than we imagine, and whatever the future holds for transformations of human consciousness, we can always start here and now to welcome new arrivals.  For there are human beings aplenty who are "alien" to us, no?  All kinds of people as troubling to us as those strange visitors were to Herod and all Jerusalem with him (G).  No need for them to be from another planet — though they might as well be — in these tribal times when people are light years apart in just about every way you can think, living as we do in our own "other dimensions."  Forget about close encounters of the fifth kind, we can barely manage the first!
     Which is why I'm dreading this election year for the endless diatribes, accusations, disinformation, and quite possibly, violence, it portends.  I hope it's not lost on you how, by a twist of liturgical providence, the traditional date of Epiphany — January 6th — is forever identified with all of that and worse to come. 
     But Epiphany gives us a chance to acknowledge our cramped view of others, our exclusive clubs, our one-dimensional lives, and open ourselves to whatever gifts the “other” might bring us.  Beginning with the Wholly Other who was manifested this day and to quote the famous Christmas hymn of St. Alphonsus Liguori — Tu scendi dalle stelle — he came down from the stars, the harbinger of a hew humanity and of universal peace.  And all without a warp drive!  


Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that, through our words and deeds, we may be a Light to those who are searching for direction and a sign of hope for those seeking to begin again.

For God’s blessing on the New Year: that God will fill the coming days with health of body, mind, and spirit; renew the gifts of the Spirit within us, and inspire us with new ways to share the Good News with others.

For a renewal of prayer in our lives: that we may make time for God each day of this year and be attentive to God’s invitations and promptings in our hearts.

For greater unity and cooperation within the human family: that God will heal the wounds of racial bias, open hearts to the talents of every person, and help us work together against violence, drug abuse, and poverty.

For all recovering from natural disasters: that God will guide them through the challenges that they face, renew their spirits, and open the hearts of many to assist and encourage them.

For members of the administration and Congress: that God will give them a clear understanding of the issues before them and wisdom to effectively address them for the common good.

For the people of Israel and Palestine: that God will ease their burdens, open opportunities, and establish justice for them.

Lord God of the nations,  we have seen the star of your glory rising in splendour.  The radiance of your incarnate Word pierces the darkness that covers the earth  and signals the dawn of peace and justice.  Make radiant the lives of your people with that same brightness, and beckon all the nations  to walk as one in your light. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.(ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn


When He is King we will give Him the King’s gifts:
Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes’, said the young girl to Joseph,
Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.

Bethlehem Down is full of the starlight,
Winds for the spices, and stars for the gold,
Mary for sleep, and for lullaby music,
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

When He is King, they will clothe Him in grave-sheets,
Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,
He that lies now in the white arms of Mary,
Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

Here He has peace and a short while for dreaming,
Close-huddled oxen to keep him from cold,
Mary for love, and for lullaby music,
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem Down.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn (Peter Cornelius)


Three Kings from Persian lands afar
to Jordan follow the pointing star:
and this the quest of the travelers three,
where the new-born King of the Jews may be.
Full royal gifts they bear for the King;
Gold, incense, myrrh are their offering.

The star shines out with a steadfast ray;
the kings to Bethlehem make their way,
and there in worship they bend the knee,
as Mary’s child in her lap they see;
their royal gifts they show to the King;
gold, incense, myrrh are their offering.

Thou child of man, lo, to Bethlehem
the Kings are traveling, travel with them!
The star of mercy, the star of grace,
shall lead thy heart to its resting place.
Gold, incense, myrrh thou canst not bring;
offer thy heart to the infant King.