To be a guiding star…
My dear friends,
Matthew did not know when Jesus was born and yet, when ‘the God made man’ and appeared to him and called him… he recognised who Jesus was!
The Gospel passage we are given for the Feast of the Epiphany is a somewhat extraordinary story. However, what Matthew wants to tell us is worth ‘sitting’ with: We are not told who the Magi were, but we are told who Jesus is and who we are in relation to him. In other words, the Magi can stand for us.
You know better than I do about the meaning of the word Epiphany. It refers particularly to a visit by a king in magnificence to his subjects to receive their homage. What we have here is not so much the visit by the magi, but Jesus, the King of kings, visiting his people.
By the birth of this baby, the Incarnation, God has become human and visited us and lives among us. “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited his people, he has come to their rescue. ” (Luke 1:68). This is the Good News that Matthew is preaching. By his frequent quotations from the Old Testament, Matthew shows that the promise made to Israel and their hopes are now fulfilled in Jesus.
Through Him, with Him and in Him, by the visit of the wise men, the great good news is that this is not just for the House of Israel, the Jews, it is for all of us too. As Paul in the second reading puts it, “It means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are part of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them.”
And this happens now, in this present moment. We hear that “God has visited his people”, but the word ‘visit’ could be misleading. It seems to suggest a mere ‘popping in’. God’s visit is not like that. He comes and stays, or correctly he comes to stay, And the promise of God-is-with-us is knowing that, “I am with you always; yes to the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20)
So we not only celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. By being Church, we are the Epiphany of the Lord. By being the Church in Australia, each of us becomes like a star in the Southern Cross. We become a sign drawing our all fellow Australians to meet and know and love Christ.
God bless all living in this Great South Land!
Fr Joseph Hien Van Vo