Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, marking the important moment when Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was revealed to the nations, to the Gentiles or the non-Jewish peoples, as represented by the Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men or even Three Kings, who came from afar, following the bright star, the Star of Bethlehem, in trying to find the Saviour promised by God to His people, the Israelites.

This great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord got its name from the word Epiphaneia, which is the Greek word for ‘manifestation’ and it can be interpreted with the meaning of God having revealed and manifested Himself before the peoples of all the nations, coming to seek Him and worship Him. No longer that He is just a King and Saviour for the Jewish people alone, as He has revealed before through His prophets in the past, that all the nations and the peoples from those nations will come together seeking the Lord, worshipping and praising Him.

As we all heard from our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, the prophet mentioned how the Lord has shown His Light and Salvation to the people of Israel, and how not just the Israelites but all the peoples of all the nations will become God’s beloved people, and follow Him through the Light of His salvation, that is in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. It was in Christ that God’s love has been manifested in the flesh, appearing before all of us, Emmanuel, God Who is with us, dwelling in our midst, all of His people.

Through Him, the world that has been in darkness, the darkness of evil and sin has seen a great new Light, the Light that pierces through the darkness of those evils and wickedness. God’s Light and Hope triumphed even over the power of sin and death, and by His coming, Christ brought unto us the assurance of God’s everlasting and enduring love for each one of us. He came to us to reach out to our hearts and minds, calling on us to follow Him and to turn away from our past evils, wickedness and sins. God has given us the way out of the darkness and into His new light.

I am certain that all of us are familiar with the story of the Magi and how they came after having travelled a great distance from their respective home countries, witnessing the great Star of Bethlehem that became their guide and hope, as they endured the long and arduous journey to come to seek the Lord. They finally found Him there in Bethlehem of Judea, a small town where the Lord and Saviour of all was born, placed in a manger in a place that was small and simple, possibly in a stable or any other similar place that was unworthy of proper human habitation, and less still for a King.

Nonetheless, He came into our world, to show His love for us, and through the Magi and their gifts, He revealed Himself to us and the gifts of the Magi also showed us Who the Lord truly is, that Child born in Bethlehem, as the Son of God, the Divine Word Incarnate and not just merely a little Child as how others would have perceived Him to be. The Magi, who are traditionally three in number, corresponding to their three gifts, and named Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, offered the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Lord, paid homage to Him and worshipped Him.

Let us all go through the gifts one by one, beginning with the gift of gold. All of us know that gold is a precious metal that has been used for millennia in the making of precious items and ornaments, of crowns and other expensive items, particularly with regards to royalty and power. For gold is a great symbol of wealth, and it also represents the Kingship of Christ. This is because it was often that the use of gold was often restricted to royalty and only the kings in the past usually had the ability to display his riches and power in gold. It has therefore been a mark and symbol of majesty and power since time immemorial.

Then, gold has also been used in the making of idols, as many pagan idols and gods were made with the liberal use and ornamentations from gold. In the history of the Israelites themselves, I am sure all of us are familiar with how the people of Israel forced Aaron to make for them the golden calf idol when they thought that Moses had died or abandoned them on Mount Sinai. They worshipped that golden calf idol and abandoned their God Who had just liberated them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh not long ago. Yet, the gold itself has no fault, as it was how the gold was used that made it to be tainted by evil.

How so? The Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred artefact of the people of Israel, containing the two tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments, the staff of Aaron and the manna, placed in the Holy of Holies and symbolising the presence of God is made almost entirely from gold, and even the Holy of Holies itself were also constructed with ample use of gold. Gold therefore is both a symbol of royal authority, power and divinity, highlighting how the Child Jesus was no mere child but in truth is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Master of all the whole Universe.

Then, for the gift of frankincense, we all know how incense has been used for a very long time to offer worship to the divine, to various gods and idols. People from various cultures and origins always associate the pleasant aroma of the various incense blends with the aroma pleasing to their deities, and offered them on their altars. Frankincense itself has an even more significant meaning, as it is the highest quality incense, just as frankincense itself meant high quality incense. It is the purest incense of the highest quality and is reserved for the most solemn occasions.

Its offering to the Child Jesus served as a revelation to all of us that Jesus is not just a mere Man, but He is the Divine Son of God at the same time. He is the one Person with two distinct yet inseparable natures, of Divine and Human natures distinct but perfectly united in his one Person, in the same Child Jesus that the Magi had paid homage to. This offering of frankincense highlighted that divinity of Christ, which at that time was not yet visible behind the veil of His humanity. It is a reminder that Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, is the Divine Word Incarnate, the Son of God Who willingly embraced our human existence, to be born into this world and to make God’s love tangible and approachable to us.

And in another explanation, frankincense is also representative of the Christ’s role as the High Priest of all, a foreshadowing of His own actions later when He would be standing between us and death, offering on our behalf on the Altar of Calvary, the Altar of His Cross, both as our High Priest and as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice. This frankincense is the symbol of His office and role as the High Priest to deliver us all the redemption and forgiveness through His one act of supreme love by the self-sacrifice on the Cross. It is a prefigurement of the great work of His salvation for us.

Then, the last gift of myrrh by the Magi is a most peculiar and strange one, as myrrh is a kind of spice used in the embalming of the dead, and it was not meant to be offered to a living person and less still to be offered to a Child. Yet, it was a very powerful symbol of the Lord and what He would do in His ministry, again related to His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross. Although no one could have known it back then, but this was a prefigurement of Christ’s death, and how He would have to go through death in order to accomplish His mission.

Myrrh is also significant because in the various cultures, the embalming of the dead, particularly that of royalty and the nobility was symbolic of their desire to seek eternal life and way out of death. People had always feared death from time immemorial as the end of our earthly life, and because of that, people had always tried to seek ways to prolong their lives without success. And in some cultures in fact, the people believed that they could transcend death and became like the gods.

This highlighted how the Lord our God is so unique among all other beliefs and schools of thoughts out there, from all different faiths and religious beliefs, as when everyone else desired to transcend their mortality to become divine, Our Lord alone willingly humbled Himself to embrace our humanity and take up our human nature, to make His infinite and vast glory into the small and perceivable form of a small Child lying in a manger in Bethlehem. And not only that, as He also willingly later on embraced the worst of sufferings and pain, the scourges and the piercing of nails, as He was condemned to death on the most humiliating punishment on the Cross, for our sake.

As we have just heard and discussed, all the three gifts of the Magi, the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are all very symbolic and serve to reveal to us all, to the people of all the nations Who this Child Jesus really was. He is the Almighty God and Ruler of all, the King of Kings and the Lord over all creation, the High Priest of all of us mankind, Who has offered on our behalf the most worthy offering, the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood on the Altar of the Cross, Who endured suffering and death for our salvation.

The Magi who came from the very far country to seek the Lord bearing the gifts actually represent all of us mankind, all the peoples who have the desire to seek the Lord and to find Him as their Light and salvation. It is a reminder that God came to us not only to save a certain group of people and to gather the children of Israel only, unlike what some among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law would have asserted. Instead, God is calling all the peoples to follow Him, to embrace His truth and love, the same truth and love that His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ has brought unto us.

The Magi followed the bright light of the Star that pointed them towards the Saviour. And this is a reminder for each and every one of us as Christians as we gather to remember the importance of the Epiphany to us. Through the gifts of the Magi, the gold, the frankincense and myrrh, we have been reminded of the nature of Our Lord’s Incarnation and coming into this world, all that He had done for our sake. Through His suffering and death, and by His glorious Resurrection, He has restored us back to life. And yet, are we following Him as the Star and the Light of our lives as well?

How many of us have disregarded the generous love that God has given us and rejected the kindness and mercy that He has shown us? This Christmas season we are constantly being reminded of all that God has done for our sake, and we should do our very best to focus our attention to Him and to glorify Him through our actions and service. Let us do whatever we can, even in the smallest things we say and do, so that our lives become a reflection of God’s Light, truth, hope and love in our respective communities.

In our world today, with so much suffering and difficulties encountered by us and many of our brothers and sisters, let us bring hope and encouragement to each other, and be each others’ pillar of support that we may endure the challenges that we may face together as one Church and one community of the faithful. We are all called to be the bearers of our Christmas joy and hope to all others, that God and His wonderful love and deeds may be known to all through us.

Let us all proclaim our great Lord and Saviour, the One Who has manifested and revealed Himself to the nations through the Magi, the Almighty God, Incarnate in the flesh and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother. Let us all proclaim Him before all the peoples with true faith and sincerity, so that more and more people may come to believe in the Lord through us. May the glory of Our Lord, He Who has manifested Himself and dwelled among us be with us, and may He bless us all in our every good efforts, works and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 2 : 1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, during the days of king Herod, wise men from the East arrived in Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw the rising of His star in the East and have come to honour Him.”

When Herod heard this he was greatly disturbed, and with him all Jerusalem. He immediately called a meeting of all high-ranking priests and scribes, and asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

“In the town of Bethlehem in Judea,” they told him, “For this is what the prophet wrote : And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least among the clans of Judah, for from you will come a Leader, the One Who is to shepherd My people Israel.”

Then Herod secretly called the wise men and asked them the precise time the star appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem with the instruction, “Go and get accurate information about the Child. As soon as you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may go and honour Him.”

After the meeting with the king, they set out. The star that they had seen in the East went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the Child was. The wise men were overjoyed on seeing the star again. They went into the house, and when they saw the Child with Mary His mother, they knelt and worshipped Him. They opened their bags and offered Him their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.

In a dream they were warned not to go back to Herod, so they returned to their home country by another way.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 3 : 2-3a, 5-6

You may have heard of the graces God bestowed on me for your sake. By a revelation He gave me the knowledge of His mysterious design. This mystery was not made known to past generations but only now, through revelations given to holy Apostles and prophets.

Now the non-Jewish people share the Inheritance; in Christ Jesus the non-Jews are incorporated and are to enjoy the Promise. This is the Good News.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

O God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

Justice will flower in His days, and peace abound till the moon be no more. For He reigns from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

The kings of Tarshish and the islands render Him tribute, the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts, all kings bow down to Him, and all nations serve Him.

He delivers the needy who call on Him, the afflicted with no one to help them. His mercy is upon the weak and the poor, He saves the life of the poor.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 60 : 1-6

Arise, shine, for your Light has come. The Glory of YHVH rises upon you. Night still covers the earth and gloomy clouds veil the peoples, but YHVH now rises and over you His glory appears. Nations will come to your Light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes round about and see : they are all gathered and come to you, your sons from afar, your daughters tenderly carried. This sight will make your face radiant, your heart throbbing and full; the riches of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you.

A flood of camels will cover you, caravans from Midian and Ephah. Those from Sheba will come, bringing with them gold and incense, all singing in praise of YHVH.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we heard of the reminder of the love of God that has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose coming into this world brought forth upon us the fulfilment of the long promised salvation that God had promised to each and every one of us, to all mankind through His many prophets and messengers that He had sent to us in the past.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard how the Lord Jesus came to the synagogue in His hometown Nazareth, and reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, uttering the very words that the prophet had spoken regarding His own coming into this world. By proclaiming the words of God’s salvation, and reminding all of us of His promises, Christ has reassured all those assembled, and all of us here who have heard those words from the Scriptures, that He will always uphold and fulfil His promises, and we can truly trust in Him.

For it was by His Incarnation and coming into this world that He has shown us the gifts of His love, and the hope of redemption, for us to be reconciled to Him and to be able to find our way to Him. The Lord has sent His own Son into our midst that He may dwell with us and remain with us, and that we are not alone regardless of what we are facing in this world. He has come to heal us from our wounds, forgiving us our trespasses and transgressions, and calling us to repent from our many sins and be reconciled with us.

In our first reading today, the Apostle St. John in his Epistle spoke of the calling for all of us Christians to love one another and to show love in our daily lives and actions, just as God has loved us first, through all that He had done for us and ultimately through Christ, by His loving sacrifice on the Cross, as He selflessly took upon Himself all the scourges, the punishments and the sufferings due to our sins. He gave Himself for us, so that by His love and actions, all of us may receive the guarantee of everlasting life, and by His wounds and His death, we have been made sharers in the true joy and everlasting glory.

If we all profess to believe in God, then it is natural that each and every one of us should love Him to the best of our abilities, and to reach out to Him, loving Him first and foremost before all else. And with this same love, all of us should also love our fellow brothers and sisters, in our respective communities. For if the Lord has loved each and every one of us without any exceptions, even to the worst of sinners, then how can we not love our brothers and sisters, even strangers whom we encounter in our daily lives?

And not only that, but as the Lord Himself has also taught His disciples, we have to learn to love even our enemies and all those who hate us. It is easy for us to love those who love us back, but it is much harder to love those who have made our lives difficult and hurt us. But that was exactly what the Lord Himself had done to us. Remember how He has forgiven even those who have made Him to suffer, rejected and humiliated Him, all those who have condemned Him to die a most painful death on the Cross. He forgave those who hated Him from

His Cross and prayed for them all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn to love generously and fulfil our calling as Christians to show love to one another in the same way that the Lord has first shown us. Let us not harden our hearts and open ourselves ever more to God’s most generous love and wonders. Through His love, God has rescued us and endeavoured to make us whole again. Yet, it was by our stubbornness that many of us remained attached to sin and placed ourselves under the bondage and the sway of sin, of evil and wickedness.

Today, as we continue to celebrate this Christmas season, let us all be witnesses of God’s love in the midst of our communities, and let us devote ourselves ever more courageously in order to love the Lord and to share that love with each other. Let us follow the Lord and His ways, of loving generously and tenderly from now on, always and evermore. May God bless us always and remain with us, at all times. Amen.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogue of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17

God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

He rescues them from oppression and strife, for their life is precious to Him. May people always pray for Him, and blessings be invoked for Him all day.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him; and He will be praised by all nations.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 19 – 1 John 5 : 4

So let us love one another, since God loved us first. If you say, “I love God,” while you hate your brother or sister, you are a liar. How can you love God, Whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother, whom you see? We received from Him, this commandment : let those who love God also love their brothers.

All those, who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know, that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfil His commands, for God’s love requires us to keep His commands. In fact, His commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world. And the victory, which overcomes the world, is our faith.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (I Classis) – Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : White

Offertory

Psalm 71 : 10-11

Reges Tharsis, et insulae munera offerent : reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent : et adorabunt Eum omnes reges terrae, omnes gentes servient Ei.

English translation

The kings of Tarshish 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.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Ecclesiae Tuae, quaesumus, Domine, dona propitius intuere : quibus non jam aurum, thus et myrrha profertur; sed quod eisdem muneribus declaratur, immolatur et sumitur, Jesus Christus, Filius Tuus, Dominus noster : Qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus. Per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Favourably regard the gifts of Your Church, o Lord, wherein no longer gold is offered, nor frankincense, nor myrrh, but He who by these gifts is signified and has become our Sacrifice and our Food, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Preface of the Epiphany

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere : Domine, Sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus : Quia, cum Unigenitus Tuus in substantiae nostrae mortalitatis apparuit, nova nos immortalitatis suae luce reparavit. Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus cumque omni militia caelestis exercitus hymnum gloriae Tuae canimus, sine fine dicentes :

English translation

It is truly meet and just, right and salutary, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to You, o Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God. Because Your only begotten Son appearing in our mortal nature had restored it by the shedding upon us of that new and immortal light which is His very own. And therefore with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations and with all the array of the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to Your glory and unceasingly repeat :

Communion

Matthew 2 : 2

Vidimus stellam Ejus in Oriente, et venimus cum muneribus adorare Dominum.

English translation

We have seen His star in the east, and have come with gifts to adore the Lord.

Post-Communion Prayer

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus : ut, quae sollemni celebramus officio, purificatae mentis intellegentia consequamur. Per Dominum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus. Per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Grant, we beseech You, o Almighty God, by the understanding of hearts made pure we may comprehend that which by solemn rite we celebrate. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.