Friday, 6 January 2023 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the whole Church celebrates the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, marking the occasion when the Lord revealed and manifested Himself to all the nations through the representation of the Three Magi or the Three Wise Men, who came all the way to Bethlehem after long and arduous journey, seeking the Star of Bethlehem marking the birthplace of the Saviour. This Solemnity and Feast, also known as Theophany especially amongst those from the Eastern Church traditions remember the time when God ‘Theos’ manifested Himself before His people, a term known as ‘Epiphaneia’, that has the meaning of revelation, as He came forth bringing the Light and Hope to the nations, just as He has promised through His prophets and messengers.

This day, we remember how the Three Magi went on the long journey from distant lands, with the very bright Star of Bethlehem as their guide, leading them towards Bethlehem where the Lord was born. This great Solemnity of the Epiphany marks the revelation that God’s salvation was not only meant for the Jewish people, unlike what some among the Jews back then believed, but His salvation was extended to all of mankind, to people of every race and origins. The Lord loves all of His beloved people, all those whom He had created, the children and descendants of the first man, Adam and his wife, Eve. Hence, it is why the Lord revealed His love to all of His people, manifested in the Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, at that moment just over two millennia ago which we have been celebrating throughout this Christmas season.

The Three Wise Men, the Magi came to the Lord bearing three gifts, of gold, myrrh and frankincense. Each one of those gifts are themselves symbols and signs that reveal to all of us Who that Child born in Bethlehem truly was. Each of those gifts represent an aspect of the Lord, as the Saviour and the Divine Word of God Incarnate. Gold, frankincense and myrrh are all precious goods and they were also precious back then as well. All of these were brought by the Three Magi from distant lands, bearing those gifts to honour and worship the Holy One born on that day in Bethlehem. The Magi were likely wise and learned men who could read the signs and the stars, the omens of times, and hence, they could surmise the rough identity of the Saviour from what they read from the signs of nature.

Through God’s grace and wisdom, those Magi came to Bethlehem presenting the three gifts that inadvertently, and unknown to them, reveal the true identity of the Lord and Saviour when all three were combined together. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are gifts that are fit for a King, a Divine Being and a High Priest, as well as a Suffering and Dead Messiah. All these represent just exactly Who this Child Jesus was, as He laid there in the manger before the Three Magi, who came to Him paying homage and worship. That small, little and vulnerable Child is the King of Kings, promised to all the people as the King Who will lead them into triumph and victory, as well as the Divine Word of God, incarnate in the flesh, one fated to bear the whole weight and burden of our many sins and the punishments due to those sins, to suffer all these for the sake of our salvation.

First of all, gold has been well-known to us as a very precious metal that is highly desired in many civilisations, among many cultures and peoples. Gold has been used as means of exchange and as monetary goods and means of wealth and possessions for many millennia. And gold has often been reserved for the rich and powerful, especially to the royalty and kings. In some cultures, Hence, the gift of gold presented by the Magi highlights the truth that Jesus Christ is indeed a King, the King over all Kings, worthy of praise and honour, all glory and power. Jesus Christ is also the one and only True God, manifested in the flesh as the Son of Man, and He is the only one worthy of worship and adoration, just as many civilisations and cultures honour their idols and gods with gold and lots of offerings of made of gold and its derivatives.

Then, frankincense is used as the finest quality of incense, which is very expensive and precious, and reserved only for the purpose of the worship of the Divine. The frankincense offered by the Magi to the Child Jesus marks Him as the Divine Son of God and not merely just a Man or a Prophet, and not only that but He is also the High Priest of all the faithful, all the people of God. As the High Priest of all, He offered on our behalf the most worthy sacrifice of all, made not of any mere animals or offerings of this world as how the old Israelite customs and the Law had done, but with His own Most Precious Body and Blood. Yes, Christ has offered Himself as the only worthy offering that is sufficient to redeem us from the massive multitudes of our sins, faults, mistakes, iniquities and more. Through His offering of Himself, as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb, He has bridged the previously unbridgeable gap existing between us and God.

Then lastly, the gift of myrrh may have indeed been very strange for a Child, as myrrh was a precious and expensive spice but it was used for the anointing and preparation of the bodies of the dead. Yet, it was that gift of myrrh which became a revelation of what this Child, this Saviour from God would do for our sake. Christ, the Child to Whom the Three Magi offered their gifts including the peculiar gift of myrrh, would have to suffer and die for the sake of everyone in the whole entire world. He had to bear His Cross, in offering Himself as the Paschal Lamb of offering, beaten and crushed, tortured and made to endure the worst humiliations and punishments for our sake. All these happened so that by His wounds, and by His broken Precious Body and outpoured Precious Blood, all of us may be saved, redeemed and pardoned from those sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as the three gifts of the Three Magi showed us all, the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Lord, the Holy Child born in Bethlehem had revealed Him to the nations, to all of us. We all have indeed received the knowledge and truth that the same Messiah we celebrate this Christmas, the Child Jesus, is truly our King of Kings, our Almighty God, the Divine Word incarnate in the flesh, born as Man, so that by His sharing of our human existence and nature, He might unite us to Himself and by sharing with us His suffering and death on His Cross, He may then share with us His glorious Resurrection. Yes, all of us have received the promise of resurrection and eternal life, from the Lord Himself, and as long as we are faithful to Him and put our trust in Him, we shall be assured of all these.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate in this glorious Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord today, let us all therefore reflect on the One Whom we are all celebrating about, that is Christ Himself, God manifested in the flesh as the Child, the Son of Man born in Bethlehem. Let us all celebrate the love of God made Man, that through Him and all of His great works in our midst, dwelling amongst us, we may indeed receive the assurance of eternal life and joy. The Lord has also called all the people of all the nations to follow Him, and assured everyone, every single children, sons and daughters of mankind to come to Him. His salvation is no longer limited to just those whom He first chose, the Israelites and their descendants, but He revealed that all the while, He wants every single one of us to be saved, all because He loves us, without prejudice and without bias, all of us equally beloved by our Creator and Master.

Just like the Three Magi in the past, let us all therefore come to seek the Lord with all of our efforts and hearts, our minds and might. Let us all be faithful to the Lord and follow Him, like the Three Magi making the intense effort in walking the long journey from their distant homelands to seek the Saviour through the Star of Bethlehem. Are we all able to do the same as they had done? They were not believers at first, but saw the signs that God had sent into this world, followed those signs and came all the way to Bethlehem to pay Him homage and to worship Him. They represent all of us mankind, all of whom have been scattered all throughout the world, but through the grace and love of God, Who has sent us Christ to be our Good Shepherd, to gather us all from the ends of the world to Himself, to find our way to God.

May the Lord, Who made Himself visible and Who has revealed Himself to all the nations, be with us all and continue to call upon us to follow Him. May He continue to guide us all through the path of grace and His love and truth, so that we may follow Him, with all of our hearts and minds, and be truly saved. Just as He has promised and assured us through His suffering, death on the Cross and finally through His glorious Resurrection, He has shown us the light of His hope and the grace of eternal life that will be ours if we keep strong our faith in Him, and continue to walk faithfully in His Presence and remain firmly committed to His path. May the Lord, our glorious and mighty God, Who revealed Himself to all the nations, be with us and bless our every good deeds and efforts, all of our endeavours for His greater glory. Wishing all of us a Most Blessed and Holy Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord! Amen.

Friday, 6 January 2023 : 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.

Friday, 6 January 2023 : 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.

Friday, 6 January 2023 : 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.

Friday, 6 January 2023 : 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.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (I Classis) – Friday, 6 January 2023 : 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.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (I Classis) – Friday, 6 January 2023 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : White

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

Matthew 2 : 1-12

Cum natus esset Jesus in Bethlehem Juda in diebus Herodis regis, ecce, Magi ab Oriente venerunt Jerosolymam, dicentes : Ubi est, qui natus est Rex Judaeorum? Vidimus enim stellam Ejus in Oriente, et venimus adorare eum.

Audiens autem Herodes rex, turbatus est, et omnis Jerosolyma cum illo. Et congregans omnes principes sacerdotum et scribas populi, sciscitabatur ab eis, ubi Christus nasceretur. At illi dixerunt ei : In Bethlehem Judae : sic enim scriptum est per Prophetam : Et tu, Bethlehem terra Juda, nequaquam minima es in principibus Juda; ex te enim exiet dux, qui regat populum meum Israel.

Tunc Herodes, clam vocatis Magis, diligenter didicit ab eis tempus stellae, quae apparuit eis : et mittens illos in Bethlehem, dixit : Ite, et interrogate diligenter de puero : et cum inveneritis, renuntiate mihi, ut et ego veniens adorem eum.

Qui cum audissent regem, abierunt. Et ecce, stella, quam viderant in Oriente, antecedebat eos, usque dum veniens staret supra, ubi erat Puer. Videntes autem stellam, gavisi sunt gaudio magno valde. Et intrantes domum, invenerunt Puerum cum Maria Matre ejus, (genuflect here) ei procidentes adoraverunt eum.

Et apertis thesauris suis, obtulerunt ei munera, aurum, thus et myrrham. Et responso accepto in somnis, ne redirent ad Herodem, per aliam viam reversi sunt in regionem suam.

English translation

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of king Herod, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who is born the King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and we have come to adore Him.”

And king Herod, hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born. But they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet, ‘And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the princes of Judah, for out of you shall come forth the ruler that shall rule My people Israel.'”

Then Herod privately calling the wise men, learnt diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them, and sending them to Bethlehem, he said, “Go and diligently inquire after the Child, and when you have found Him bring word to me again, so that I may also come and adore Him.”

Having heard the king, they went their way, and behold the star which they had seen in the east went before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary, His mother (kneel here) and falling down they adored Him.

And opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having received a vision in their sleep, that they should not return to Herod, they went back by another way into their own country.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (I Classis) – Friday, 6 January 2023 : Gradual and Alleluia

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 60 : 1 and Matthew 2 : 2

Omnes de Saba venient, aurum et thus deferentes et laudem Domino annuntiantes.

Response : Surge et illuminare, Jerusalem : quia gloria Domini super te orta est.

Alleluja, Alleluja.

Response : Vidimus stellam ejus in Oriente, et venimus cum muneribus adorare Dominum. Alleluja.

English translation

All those from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.

Response : Arise and be enlightened, o Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Response : We have seen His star to the east and have come with gifts to adore the Lord. Alleluia.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (I Classis) – Friday, 6 January 2023 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : White

Lectio Isaiae Prophetae – Lesson from Isaiah the Prophet

Isaiah 60 : 1-6

Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem : quia venit lumen Tuum, et gloria Domini super te orta est. Quia ecce, tenebrae operient terram et caligo populos : super te autem orietur Dominus, et gloria ejus in te videbitur. Et ambulant gentes in lumine tuo, et reges in splendore ortis tui.

Leva in circuitu oculos tuos, et vide : omnes isti congregati sunt, venerunt tibi : filii tui de longe venient, et filiae tuae de latere surgent. Tunc videbis et afflues, mirabitur et dilatabitur cor tuum, quando conversa fuerit ad te multitudo maris, fortitudo gentium venerit tibi.

Inundation camelorum operiet te, dromedarii Madian et Epha : omnes de Saba venient, aurum et thus deferentes, et laudem Domino annuntiantes.

English translation

Arise, be enlightened, o Jerusalem, for your Light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist shall cover the people, but the Lord shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. And the Gentiles shall walk in your light, and kings in the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes round about and see, all these are gathered together, they have come to you, your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall rise up at your side. Then you shall see, and abound, and your heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to you, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to you.

The multitudes of camels shall cover you, the dromedaries of Median and Epha, all those from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (I Classis) – Friday, 6 January 2023 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : White

Introit

Malachi 3 : 1 and Psalm 71 : 1

Ecce, advenit dominator Dominus : et regnum in manu ejus et potestas et imperium.

Deus, judicium Tuum Regida : et justitiam Tuam Filio Regis.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Behold the Lord the Ruler has come, and a kingdom in His hand, and power and dominion.

Give to the King Your judgment, o God, and to the King’s Son Your justice.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect

Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum Tuum gentibus stella duce revelasti : concede propitius; ut, qui jam Te ex fide cognovimus, usque ad contemplandam speciem Tuae celsitudinis perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

English translation

O God, You who by the guidance of a star had revealed this day Your only begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we, who know You now by faith, may be so led as to behold with our eyes the beauty of Your majesty. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.