Epiphany (C)
January 02, 2022
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

R/. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.

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.

Reflection Questions

  1. What makes your heart throb and overflow?
  2. How are you a copartner with Christ?
  3. How are you searching diligently for the Child?

Catena Nova

The star came to rest over the place where the child lay. When they saw it the sages were filled with great joy. Why don’t we too welcome that star and that joy, and let them fill our hearts? This joy is the same as the glad tidings the angels proclaimed to the shepherds. Let’s worship the Lord as he has really come and do it with the shepherds and the Sages. Are you ready to sing: “This day is born to us a Savior who is Christ the Lord! And he is our God and his light has shone upon us.” Is it for fear of terrifying us that God comes in weakness and as a servant who would set us free? We have been held in bondage, and mostly by fear. The world is so filled with evils and we had been rendered dumb and dull of heart contemplating it all. But how could we be so ungrateful and fail to rejoice when God himself has come to be one of us? We are celebrating a festival for the entire universe. The blessings of heaven are poured out on the earth. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will among all people!” The stars traverse the skies. The Sages journey from pagan lands and earth receives a redeemer into a cave. He doesn’t come as God but as human and as a human being of a People. Don’t be afraid of the task. Rather, let no one be without some gift to offer and let all start with the gift of gratitude. We are celebrating the world’s salvation and Christ’s coming among us as one of us. What frightens us is that God hasn’t done the work for us but has asked us to do it with him. We have to let God’s power and grace work within us.... Come, now, and join all those who gladly welcome the Lord.... They didn’t despise what they saw but praised God’s majesty. Like light shining through clear glass, the power of the Godhead shone in radiance through a human body. All whose inner gaze was pure could see it. May our God count us among those he enables to see it. Behold his splendor with unveiled faces! We will be transformed from glory into glory and from grace into grace and from loving kindness received to loving kindness given to others. This is the gift of revealing Jesus Christ to the world. It is the beginning of the world’s transformation. (St. Basil the Great)

[The Magi] had placed their hope in [Christ’s] coming, but what had led them to do this? It was a revelation brought about by those who had taught them to interpret the stars’ movements and changes. It is a mystery how God works to bring people to faith and the power of that mystery has not changed though the event lies in a distant past. The point is that we, today, experience the grace flowing from that mystery.... Listen to Isaiah: “The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all nations, and the whole world has seen the salvation which comes from the Lord, our God.” Today we see many people being led from error to knowledge of the True Light. These people formerly didn’t devote themselves to faith or to Jesus Christ but now they come to Christ and to faith. They come even though they had given themselves wholly to the study of worldly wisdom and its practice. What does it mean to say our God bared his holy arm? It means God has sent people like us to show his care and mercy and love to people who have never before experienced them. It means God has used our lives to send a shaft of radiance into their lives and has guided it so that it pierces their hearts. In response they come offering myrrh, incense and gold. It is a three-fold offering made, in fact, by all who come to Christ in faith. To acknowledge Christ’s universal sovereignty and salvation is to offer gold from the treasury that is an enlightened heart. To believe that God’s only Son has become truly one with human nature is to offer myrrh. To declare that Jesus is in no way inferior to the Heavenly Father in majesty is to worship by offering frankincense. These gifts can’t be offered until they have been received from God. It is our hands—our deeds—that God uses to give them to us, so we can share them with others. Let your hearts overflow in loving deeds, always and everywhere. (Pope St. Leo the Great)

Today is festive enough in its own right, but it stands out all the more clearly because of its proximity to Christmas. When God is worshiped in the Child, the honor of the virgin birth is revered. When gifts are brought to the God-man, the dignity of the divine motherhood is exalted. When Mary is found with her child, Christ’s true manhood is proclaimed, together with the inviolate chastity of the Mother of God.  All this is contained in the evangelist’s statement: “And entering the house they found the child with Mary his mother, and bowing down they worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” 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. We too must have faith in Christ’s assumption of our mortal nature.... The necessity of faith in the kingship of Christ can be demonstrated on divine authority, since he says of himself in one of the psalms: “I have been appointed king by him,” that is, by God the Father. And speaking as Wisdom personified he claims to be the King of kings, saying: “It is through me that kings reign and princes pronounce judgment.” As to Christ’s divinity, the whole world created by him testifies that he is the Lord. He himself says in the gospel: “All power has been given me in heaven and on earth,” and the blessed evangelist declares: “All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made.” (Odilo of Cluny)

Our faith was delivered to us by those Magi who were the first to receive it. They conveyed this mystery under the form of three gifts. What we must do is possess this mystery of faith with a pure conscience. But doesn’t it seem we have the appearance of piety but deny its power? Are we humble in deed and not just in dress? Are we sparing in food but not of doing our own will? Do we display unfeigned charity, patience that is long-suffering, and obedience that is prompt? Set your hearts on these virtues so that both without and within we may be pleasing to God.... Think of the Lord Christ. He was rich and became poor; he humbled himself being laid in a manger; he was subject to his parents; he turned wholly to God by being baptized by a servant, John; he bore with a disciple who was a thief and betrayer; he was meek before and unjust judge; he forgave and prayed for those who crucified him. This is the humility and virtue that opens heaven.... Let us give thanks to Him because he reserved such a grace for those who believe and turn again to God. (Bl. Guerric of Igny)

In the Gospel the story is told of how there appeared to the nations a new star in the heavens; it called them to rise up from the things of earth and contemplate the true light, and so become newly born. Isaiah had said, “The glory of the Lord has arisen for you”. Then the Gospel adds that a star in which the Lord’s glory shone out appeared and indicated to the Magi, to kings as representing the Church which was to come, that they should look for a new guide to a new life. All earth-bound and transitory things, all riches and worldly honors, are definitely beneath the dignity of a human person; one should not, then, seek simply the things of the earth. The glory of the Lord came to show more. As a result, the children of the earth have their hearts drawn to things of heaven and to the work of glorifying God above all that is of earth...The Holy Church sees the glory of God through Magi who announced God’s birth as a human being. Wasn’t the great glory of this Church seen when the kindreds of the earth came to adore a little child, poor and the son of poor people? And now in all places people offer adoration to Christ’s divinity-in-humanity and along with it gifts of gold and myrrh. Each and every one of us was in captivity. We had to be told, “Rise up”! The star which led us is Sacred Scripture. Jesus Christ thus came to us.... With the Gospel of peace to lead us, surely we can come to God by adoring God in Christ. Yet it isn’t right you should come empty handed. Offer incense—pure prayer. Offer myrrh—mortification of your flesh. Offer gold—true charity. Gifts such as these God accepts most graciously. Then God’s star, Jesus Christ, will become incarnate in you and make you his own forever. (St. Aelred of Rievaulx)

What we behold through the feast of Epiphany is a faith that sees deeper than our ordinary senses.... It is wonderful to recognize God when we are shown him enthroned and crowned in glory but even more when consorting with animals and poor people. We don’t even have the guidance offered by the light of a new star. We have only the light of faith by which to see Christ and learn from him. But we do have this light! This is our most reliable guide on the pathways of life. Whoever you may be, if you thirst for God and for the vision of the Lord in all his eternal glory, if you long to share in divine happiness, if you truly long with all your heart to reach the goal of all human desiring, don’t turn your eyes away from the God who dwells in the poor and with the humble. This presence can be grasped only by the light of the star of faith. What must we do to seek God in fervor of spirit? We have to search diligently for Christ where he truly is present. We have to search perseveringly. We mustn’t let any earthy circumstances blind us to God’s presence. We mustn’t let earthly riches made us blind to God as he really is among us. Don’t even let the prospect of hardships or misfortunes hold you back or blind you. The Magi show us where to find Christ. They show us that when we glimpse him it is time to open our treasures and pour them out in his service. The family of Jesus was poor. They used the Magi’s gifts for the necessities of life. If we refuse this sharing, we refuse to recognize Christ where he really is.... 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).

Behold, I give thee gold, that is to say My Divine Love; frankincense, that is all My holiness and devotion; finally myrrh, which is the bitterness of My Passion. I give them to thee to such an extent that thou mayest offer them as gifts to Me, as if they were thine own property. (St. Mechthild von Hackeborn).

The mighty vision of the prophet Isaiah speaks of the liberation of oppressed people through the disarming birth of a divine child.... If we really understand what this revelation means it will burst the bonds of Sunday worship. If the message really lays hold of us, it leads us to Jesus the liberator, and to the people who live in darkness and who are waiting for him and help. Anyone who belongs to the people who dwell in the land of darkness, or anyone who has ever belonged to that people, will find this message about the “disarming” birth of the child as alluring as it is unbelievable.... To whom is the child born—for the peace of us all? Will we continue to cling to human made lights? Will we listen to people who tell us what we want to hear? For God’s victory doesn’t come about through new weapons and more force, or through alliances or solidarity. God has his own divine kind of victory. God victory puts an end to the victories of human beings. Swords are turned into plowshares and peace treaties replace atomic weapons. But how is this supposed to happen? All the images the prophet paints point only to the Divine Child. This is faith. This faith calls us to love. We must begin by answering God’s call and keep looking to how God calls us further. (Jurgen Moltmann)


Webb of the Universe

            On Christmas morning, after 25 years of development, the long-awaited launch of the James Webb Space Telescope took place.  What NASA director Bill Nelson said will “open up secrets of the universe.... [and] that will be just stupendous, if not almost overwhelming.” Webb, he said, will enable a "quantum leap of understanding of who we are, how we got here, what we are and how did it all evolve." The telescope will also be able to detect the chemical composition of other planets’ atmospheres.  As Nelson added, "We're going to start to be able to determine, are there habitable atmospheres like our own revolving orbiting around other suns? That's going to be pretty exciting to find that out." (space.com; December 23, 2021).

            I should think so.  And what better timing for the launch than Christmas Day when One whose birth was heralded by a heavenly body drew ancient astrologers to Bethlehem to behold the beauty of his sublime glory (cf. Collect).  The telescope with its golden mirrors even looks a bit like a star.

            Now the star of Bethlehem was the original UAP – Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon – that’s the government’s new lingo for UFOs.  Astronomers and sleuths have been trying to identify the star for centuries.  Much like the government trying to figure out where the UAPs in our skies are coming from – and whose operating them!  The most the Office of National Intelligence will say in its recent report to Congress is a number of such sightings are in what it calls an “other” category – the kind that "appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion." (June 25, 2021)

            Now let’s suppose, just for fun, that the occupants of said craft were from another star system or another dimension.  (Let’s hope they’re Vulcans and not Klingons).  Well, the implications would be enormous on every front you can imagine – religion, perhaps more than anything else.  

            It would be a little like Matthew’s story of the Magi’s visit.  Here come these exotic visitors to Jerusalem on a strange mission.  Whoever they were, and wherever they came from, they were not from around there.  They must have made quite an impression on the residents of the Holy City such that Herod was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him (G).  Yet, despite the art and music they have inspired, Matthew’s interests lay elsewhere.  For the Magi are the first representatives of  the Gentiles who would become coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (G).  In other words, Epiphany manifests for the first time the universal scope of the Christian religion, far beyond the confines of Palestine.  And the church has struggled ever since with just how far.

            That’s why Pope Francis, perhaps in jest, and perhaps seriously, startled a few people when he asked, “If....an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us…. And one says, ‘But I want to be baptized!’ What would happen?”

            Good question.  Br. Guy Consolmagno, who directs the Vatican Observatory (Yes, you heard that right, the Vatican operates an observatory and guess where it has one of its telescopes -- in Arizona, yes, Arizona! ) Br. Guy has said,  "Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul." And would he baptize an alien? "Only if they asked, " he said. (September 17, 2010)  Why, he even organized a conference a couple of years ago called “The Search for Extra-Astronomical Life.”  (cf. http://www.vaticanobservatory.va/content/specolavaticana/en/supervoss2019.html)

            Now Pope Francis would approve, who went on to say, “When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! .... Who are we to close doors?  In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of [usher]. And what did the [usher] do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never.”

            Of course, as one perceptive journalist noted, “to think he was talking just about aliens is to miss his main point. Pope Francis was “using Martians to illustrate that the church must be open to whatever, or whoever, may seem socially foreign and unaccepted.... as he was preaching about a specific New Testament story: early Christians were wondering if Jews and Gentiles could associate, and God gave the Apostle Peter a vision that salvation extended beyond the deepest cultural divides. It was a moment of internal crisis for the early church” (Elizabeth Dias, Time; https://time.com/99616/for-pope-francis-its-about-more-than-martians/; May 14, 2014).

            And that is the real point, isn’t it?  For all kinds of people might be “alien” to us, and might as well be from another planet, especially in these tribal times when people are poles apart in just about every way you can think, everyone living in their own little universe.  So 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 “others” might bring us.  Who knows, they might even have a warp drive!   

ADDENDUM:  After publishing this homily, news reports began to circulate that NASA has hired a group of theologians to address the religious implications of discovering alien life.  As usual, there is plemty of rumor and misinformation associated with these reports.  The Associated Press has attempted to provide correctives.  What is true is that "NASA provided some funding in 2015 to the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey, for a program to study the potential societal impact of finding life beyond Earth. The NASA-funded portion of the program ended in 2017." The theologians involved, a spokeperson for the Center stated, will be publishing "scholarly reflections on the societal implications of astrobiology...in a series of individual monographs and peer-reviewed academic journal articles." Cf. https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-460963967383 for more information. 



Intercessions (cf. Archdiocese of Adelaide)

Led by the star, the Magi found and worshipped the Christ Child. Led by faith, we too have found the Christ and in this Eucharist we worship him.

May the light of Christ shine radiantly throughout the Church, so that she may unite her members in following the example of the Magi, and kneel and worship Jesus.

May the light of Christ shine with wisdom over the Church as we seek to understand what the Holy Spirit is asking of us.

May the light of Christ overcome the devastation and fear caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, so that people will care for each other with the respect which the Magi showed to the Christ Child and his Mother.

May the light of Christ dispel the evil of war, religious persecution and corruption in governments, so that people can live in respectful peace everywhere.

May the light of Christ shine mercifully on the peoples of the Holy Land so that people of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths can live together with respect, leading to the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine, with Jerusalem as the city of peace for everyone.

May the light of Christ shine eternally with joy upon our departed loved ones and family members, and especially those who died alone and in fear during 2021.

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)



Kings so fair and glorious,
From whence do you come here?
Out of far-off countries,
Led by guiding star’s light.
We have that we might worship
Little Jesus, born and lying
Here in this poor stable,
Here in this poor stable.
We are bearing for Him
Eagerly our presents:
Here are gold and incense,
Here is myrrh most precious.
That the Child
Lord and God of heaven
Would be glad and thus bless us
Here in this poor stable,
Here in this poor stable.
Christians, come with gladness
With the kings, and offer
Heart and mind and body
To the infant Savior.
Then with Good News
Bright as star-light,
Tell His love through earth’s dark night:
Born in this poor stable,
Born in this poor stable.

Lord’s Prayer

Guided by the light of faith, we pray as Jesus taught us....

(Spiritual Communion)

Deprived once again of your sacramental Presence, Lord, we come before you nevertheless with our gifts of faith, hope and charity.  Manifest yourself in the depths of our hearts where we believe you dwell through grace. Hasten the day when we can once more bow down in worship before you living among us in the Sacrament of your love.



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

Closing Hymn


The Virgin, filled with joy,

Looked at her Baby fondly,

While oxen watched the cradles

Where the Babe slept soundly.

The silver moon was bright,

The Baby’s face was glowing,

The lowing of the oxen

Was His lullaby.

In Bethlehem singing

Came from heaven to earth

And gave to the shepherds

News of Jesus’ birth.

From heaven came a voice;

It told them not to tarry,

To go and find the Savior,

Born the Son of Mary.

The kingly Balthazar

Knelt down there to adore Him;

While Melchior and Caspar

Marveled at the sight.

In Bethlehem singing...