Today we are celebrating the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “epiphany” means a manifestation or revelation. Literally, a “drawing back of the veil.” On this day the veil is drawn back on a great and wonderful mystery, namely, that Jesus Christ is the Savior not only of the Jews but of the Gentiles.
God sent the Son into the world not to condemn it, but to save it. Every man, woman and child, from the beginning to the end of time, is offered God’s free gift of salvation. It is God’s will that all people should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. This is the theological understanding of today’s celebration.
God invites all, Jew and Gentile, to share on an equal footing the benefits of the salvation won by Christ. It stresses the justice of God that all people stand equally before God. No one is excluded from receiving the gift.
We should not put too much emphasis on the star, otherwise this feast will become very narrow in its meaning. The star was only the means by which this great mystery was revealed.
In the Old Testament the Jewish people were portrayed as God’s Chosen People. This understanding was interpreted as all other people were of an inferior status in the eyes of God. The Feast of the Epiphany shows that election by God is not a privilege for some but a hope for all. It puts an end to any type of exclusivism.
Today’s feast tore down the wall between Jews and Gentiles. During his ministry Jesus reached out to Samarians, Canaanites, foreigners, and all kinds of social outcasts. He angered the religious leaders by telling them that the Kingdom of God was open to everyone. And, before he returned to the right hand of his Father, he commissioned the apostles with the command, “Go out into the whole world and make disciples of all nations.”
The Magi, three Gentiles, are the first fruits of the Gentile world coming to share in the blessings of the Messiah. Let us always remember that this is an inclusive feast. We who were once aliens are now part of God’s family!
May we never take God’s gratuitous gift of salvation for granted but by responding to it every day. Our response is to live the Gospel, to be the Christ to others, and to bring the Christ to others.
— Father Dennis, January 8, 2017