Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “epiphany” means “a manifestation or revelation.” On this day it was revealed that Jesus was sent into the world to be the Savior of all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike. No one was excluded from receiving this most precious gift of salvation.
It is the will of God that all people should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. God invites all, Jew and Gentile, to share on an equal footing the benefits of salvation won by Jesus Christ. The feast stresses the equality of all men and women who, in Christ, are part of the one body.
In the Old Testament the Jews are portrayed as God’s Chosen People. Unfortunately this idea was interpreted in a way that involved second-class status for all other peoples. Today’s feast shows that election by God is not a privilege for some but a hope for all. It puts an end to every kind of exclusivism. We are celebrating a universalist feast!
The Feast of the Epiphany breaks down the barrier between Jews and Gentiles. Jesus reached out to Samaritans, Canaanites, foreigners, and all types of social outcasts. Jesus angered the religious leaders by telling them in no uncertain terms that the Kingdom of God is open to all peoples. The reality that the Gentiles would be accepted on equal terms as themselves caused great shock and bewilderment to the Jews. Before Jesus returned to the right side of the Father, he gave his apostles the Great Commission, “Go out into the whole world and make disciples of all nations.”
This great and awesome truth was revealed when the Magi, Gentiles, came to adore the Christ as their Savior. The Magi are the first fruits of the Gentile world coming to share in the messianic blessings.
Today’s feast is a joyful one, an inclusive one. We who were outsiders are now insiders. We who were once aliens are not part of God’s Family.
How does this feast help us live our faith today? We must remember that we are all equal in the eyes of God. We are obligated by the Gospel to reach out to those who continue to be seen as outcasts today: the poor, the homeless, and the immigrant, anyone who is treated as less than fully human.
May we be faithful to the Gospel mandate.
– Fr. Dennis, January 6, 2020