Homily Feast of the Epiphany Year B Journey to the encounter

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Homily: Feast of the Epiphany Year B

 

Reading 1: What is the purpose of light? It gives clarity and dispels the darkness around us. It enables us to see when we travel. The light in the first reading refers to the revelation that leads to Jesus the Messiah. This light, we will come to learn, is Christ the light of the world, who came to dispel the darkness of sin and to fill us with the light and life of his grace.

 

Jesus is the glory of the Father revealing the plan of the Father to us. At the same time, we are to become the light, as Jerusalem was to become that light for the world. The riches spoken of are not only material riches, but spiritual riches that come to us from sharing in the light and life of Christ personally and with others.

 

The people of Israel as they heard this prophetic message anticipated the coming of the Messiah. They had just returned from their seventy-year exile in Babylon because they had broken their covenant with God, in spite of many calls from various prophets to return to the Lord. When they returned to Jerusalem, it was in shambles, its former glory destroyed, beginning with the Temple.

 

To this disheartened people Isaiah speaks a word of hope. He reminds them that what God has planned for them is something greater than their former glory.

 

As the early Church heard this prophesy, the realized that the Messiah had come and the prophesy had been fulfilled. But they also realized that Jesus will come again in glory.  As we begin this year 2021, having experienced the devastation of the past year, we are reminded by the Lord that has given us something greater than physical existence in a physical world. God has sent his Son, who has redeemed us and shared his own divine life so that we may live forever in God’s glory. In other words, as real as human life with its ups and downs is, we are to remember the Lord shines upon us and calls us to something greater.

 

Gospel: The visitation of the wise men was the fulfillment of the prophets and a revelation of God’s plan and promises in each of our lives. Life is a journey, not just from birth to death, not only from the dependency of a child to the maturity of the adult. It is a journey to a personal, transforming, and life-changing encounter with Jesus, the Lord and Savior.

 

The journey of the wise men is one of the many journeys in the Gospel narrative. The purpose of the journey is the same: an encounter with the Beginning and End of our life, the One our heart yearns for. The wise men began searching in their own world of learning. Nature provides the initial spark and openness to something new. They follow their initial lead not knowing more than a new king has been born and this one was special. Nature itself was not sufficient in itself. God’s revelation in the scriptures was necessary. They needed to hear the word of God, which, like a light, indicated the place they were to go. 

 

They continued their journey of faith and encountered the Christ child, the newborn King. They offered him their gifts. Gold to recognize his royal dignity; frankincense, his divinity and myrrh, his humanity.  Isaiah had so prophesied in our first reading.

 

Their encounter changed their lives. They returned home a different way, not retracing the past, but moving into a new future because of their encounter.

 

Today, we have seen the wonders of God in nature; we have heard the word of God and now we are about to once more encounter the person of Jesus Christ in the breaking of the bread and in communion with him. Will our lives change as a result? Will we live differently this week because of him? Or will we be like those in world who saw the same phenomena of nature and didn’t do anything about it? Will we be like the people of Jerusalem? We hear the word of God pointing us to the direction we should take, but do not go.  Will we be like the wise men and continue or journey so that we can encounter in a fresh new way the Light of the world, the One who can make a difference in our lives?

 

Reading 2: Paul affirms the true meaning of this Feast. The visitation of the wise men from the East was not an isolated coincidence but the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan. It was partially made known by the prophets of the Old Testament. But it was further taught by Christ in his short life.

 

Not only the Jews were the chosen people to whom the Messiah was sent to redeem and reconcile to God, but the non-Jews, the Gentiles were also saved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Jews were heirs of the promise and the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body and co-partners in the promise of God. This is the plan of universal salvation.

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