In the reality we are living today the feast of the Epiphany has special significance. Three strangers from “the East” are lifted up for us as important figures in the Gospel narrative. Where are they from: Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran or as far away as Afghanistan? For the Gospel it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they were from another culture and religion, but were seeking God. That is one of the great breakthroughs and challenges of the Gospel: appreciate and accept the journey of faith of those who might be coming from far away. They too are searching for the truth and the experience of God and his light shines for them too. They discovered what they were looking for in the love of a poor child who had been born in a manger. Then, just like St. Joseph, they are warned in a dream and shown by God a safe return to their lands.
The civil leader, Herod, was afraid of a challenge to his power and so authorized a kind of genocide to maintain his rule. His decisions and actions and manipulative lies were his response to God’s saving invitation to all of humanity. He was not searching for God and was not open to anyone other than himself. Herod rejected God’s offer of mercy and showed no mercy in his actions.
In today’s world of conflicting cultures and religions the Gospel offers us the same challenge it did for the first Christians. Will we be like the Magi or like Herod? Can we journey with others in faith and offer our love as did Mary and the Christchild, or do we allow fear to rule our lives and act without mercy? May God enlighten us all in this celebration of his epiphany.
Fr. Joseph Jablonski, MSC