Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. Our Orthodox sisters and brothers celebrate Christmas today. The celebration of the Epiphany preceded a date set on the liturgical calendar for Christmas, which did not happen until the 4th Century. The Epiphany was the manifestation to the world that the Messiah had come to over the gift of salvation to all peoples.
Many people have the impression that the Magi saw a bright star in the eastern sky and followed it, as the star guided them unerringly, first to Jerusalem, where it temporarily disappeared, and then to Bethlehem where they found the Child. Sounds so simple and exciting. However this is not a true picture of what took place.
Reading the Gospel account carefully we see that they saw the star as it rose. It does not say anything about the star guiding them. This suggests that the star was a sign that something wonderful had taken place, that being, a new king had been born.
The star is not mentioned again until they were on the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, that is, as they drew closer to the end of their journey. In between this we conclude that they travelled in darkness, and had to seek and enquire.
The journey of the Magi was not simple nor easy. They had to face difficulties and dangers, yet, in spite of this they persevered in their quest, and were reward when they finally found the Child Jesus.
This is why their story is meaningful for us. Like the Magi, we too are on a journey. When we start out we are attracted by something bright, an ideal or vision or hope. But the initial “star” does not remain forever in our sky. It grows dim, clouds get in the way and we are deprived of its light.
We, too, must expect to encounter difficulties and doubts. Some people think that they are losing their faith when they have doubts. Doubts are part of life and it is then that we are invited to imitate the Magi. We must never be so proud as to not ask for guidance on our journey. We must have faith that the darkness will give way to the light, and we will once again see our original star.
One of the interesting facts in the Gospel account is that the Magi returned to their country by a different route. This suggest not a geographical route but a new way of seeing things. Having their eyes opened to the Christ they saw a new vision of what life is all about. It is impossible for anyone to encounter Jesus Christ without it affecting the way in which one lives his or her life.
May our encounter with the Lord Jesus open our minds, our hearts, and our lives to live the Gospel to its fullest each and every day.
— Fr. Dennis, January 7, 2018