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.

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