Epiphany (A)
January 08, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

 

 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.

The Introit is a free rendering of Malachias iii, “Behold the Lord the Ruler is come: and a kingdom is in his hand, and power and dominion.” The psalm (lxxi) is that of the feast, and foretells the kings offering their gifts to Christ. Epiphany means “appearance” or “manifestation” and among the Eastern Christians had originally the same significance as Christmas in Rome. It was the festival of the eternal Word, clothed in the flesh, revealing himself to mankind. Three different phases of this historical manifestation were especially venerated—viz., the adoration of the Magi at Bethlehem, the changing of the water into wine at Cana, and the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. (Schuster)

Kyrie

Gloria

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. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 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 (72:1-2,7-8,10-11,12-13)

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.

Gradual (Is 60:6, 1)

All those from Sheba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense; and showing forth praise to the Lord.

Vs. Arise and shine out, O Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is rising upon you.The Gradual is taken from the same portion of Isaias, and tells of the nations hastening to the cradle of the Messiah, bringing gold and frankincense. The alleluiatic verse, on the other hand, comes from that chapter (ii) of St Matthew in which the Magi relate how, through the appearance of a star, they are come to adore the Messiah. It is always faith that lights up our path to God, so that without it it is not possible for us to please him.

Second Reading Ephesians 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

Alleluia, alleluia. Vs. We have seen his star in the East, and we have come with our gifts, to worship the Lord. Alleluia

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

How have you been “radiant at what you see, your heart throbbing and overflowing this Christmas season?

How are you a “steward of God’s grace?”

How have you “searched diligently” for this Child?

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).

 

Intercessions

 

 

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

 

 

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.

 

The Offertory recalls that prophecy of Psalm lxxi, in which it is said that “ the kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents : the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts : and all kings of the earth shall adore him : all nations shall serve him.”

 

Offertory Hymn

 

The Magi, kings of Persia,

 

knew with assurance

 

That you, the heavenly King,

 

were born on earth.

 

Led by the light of a star,

 

they came to Bethlehem,

 

and offered their choicest presents:

 

gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

Falling before you,

 

they worshipped you,

 

for the saw you, the Timeless One,

 

lying as a Babe in the cave.  

 

 

Communion Antiphon

 

 

 

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.

 

The Communion is a repetition of the alleluiatic verse.The interior life of a Christian is the reproduction of the life of Jesus; thus the object of the Church in placing before us the annual cycle of feasts is not merely to commemorate the great historical epochs in the history of our redemption, but also to reproduce in our souls their spiritual teaching.... In a word, it is not alone the historical Epiphany which we desire to celebrate, but we associate ourselves also with that other subjective and personal Epiphany which is manifested in the soul of every believer to whom Jesus appears by means of our holy Faith.

 

Closing Hymn

 

 

 

Saw you never, in the twilight,
When the sun had left the skies,
Up in Heav’n the clear stars shining
Through the gloom, like silver eyes?
So of old the wise men, watching,
Saw a little stranger star,
And they knew the King was given,
And they followed it from afar.
 
Heard you never of the story
How they crossed the desert wild,
Journeyed on by plain and mountain,
Till they found the holy Child?
How they opened all their treasure,
Kneeling to that infant King;
Gave the gold and fragrant incense,
Gave the myrrh in offering?
 
Know ye not that lowly Baby
Was the bright and morning Star?
He Who came to light the Gentiles,
And the darkened isles afar?
And we, too, may seek His cradle;
There our hearts’ best treasures bring;
Love, and faith, and true devotion
For our Savior, God and King.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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