Homily Feast of the Epiphany Year C Our response to God's revelation

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Homily Feast of the Epiphany Year C

Reading 1: To a people who are in a state of spiritual darkness, Isaiah gives hope of a future glory. He speaks about a light. What is that light? The glory of God. Jerusalem, once destroyed, will be restored by the Lord. The people once driven out in exile will return in glory led by the Lord. That prophetic word was fulfilled.

But there is another meaning concerning the light. The true light of the world that destroys and overcomes the darkness of sin is Jesus. His coming brings a new glory to God’s people and a new revelation. The symbols of gold and frankincense anticipates the gifts of the wise men in the Gospel. The proclamation of the promised of the Lord reflects the words of the shepherds, the wise men and Simon and Anna. These were the initial ones who recognize the prophecy being fulfilled in the person of Jesus. But what is the new revelation, implied in the words of Isaiah?

Reading 2: Paul reveals to us that new revelation. He says that it was not known in previous generations but made known to the Apostles and Paul. What is it? Jesus came as Savior, not only of the chosen people, the Jews, but of the Gentiles as well.

Because of Jesus’ coming and his death and resurrection, we are co-heirs, members of the same chosen people and co-partners in the salvation brought about by Jesus. To us, this is not new maybe. But to the people of Paul’s day it was a new revelation.

Even the early Jewish converts believed that the Gentiles had first to embrace the covenant of Moses through circumcision and strictly observe the dietary laws in order to be saved. Paul says, that salvation comes through baptism, not circumcision. Gentiles share equally with Jewish converts as members of the faith community.

If you were a recent convert as a Gentile, you would no longer feel like a second class citizen in the community of faith.
Gospel: The revelation of the birth of the Messiah was proclaimed to the Shepherds by angels. They came and worshiped. That same revelation of the birth of a new born king comes to wise men through the sign of a star, a natural sign. But the true and fuller understanding of how to find and identify this child comes through the Word of God. It is the information that the priests and scribes share that gives light to the inquiry of the wise men. Grace builds on nature.

But hearing the message proclaimed by the angels and being told that the new king would be born in Bethlehem, requires more than hearing and receiving the truth. The shepherds acted on the word of the angels. They went with haste to see for themselves. On seeing, they worshipped and told others of God’s revelation.

The wise men followed the lead given them by prophesy of Micah. They went to Bethlehem and found the one they were searching for. They saw a baby with their human eyes, but saw the revelation of God with the eyes of faith.

We have come to the annual celebration of the birth of the Savior. We have heard the words of revelation anew. What has happened in our lives? Business as usual, like the scribes and priests who read the prophetic word but did nothing about it personally? Or like the Shepherds and wise men, our lives could not be the same afterwards. The shepherds could not stop telling others what they had heard and seen with their own eyes. The wise men couldn’t go back to Herod or the same way that they had come. Now, because they had heard and seen for themselves the new born king, there was a new path for them to follow.  Has our celebration of the birth of Jesus open for us a new way of life and a new path to follow?

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