Solemnity of the Epiphany (Year B) - 7 January

7th January 2024
“Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, One whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look, they believe and do not question, as their symbolic gifts bear witness: incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.” - St Peter Chrysologus
A reflection on today's Gospel by the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J Sheen:
"The Psalmist had foretold that the kings of the East would come to do homage to Emmanuel. Following a star, they came to Jerusalem to ask Herod where the King had been born. It was a star that led them. God spoke to the Gentiles through nature and philosophers; to the Jews, through prophecies. The time was ripe for the coming of the Messiah and the whole world knew it. Though they were astrologers, the slight vestige of truth in their knowledge of the stars led them to the Star out of Jacob, as the 'Unknown God' of the Athenians later on would be the occasion for Paul preaching to them the God Whom they knew not, but dimly desired. Though coming from a land that worshiped stars, they surrendered that religion as they fell down and worshiped Him Who made the stars. The Gentiles in fulfilment of the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah 'came to Him from the ends of the earth.' The Star, which disappeared during the interrogation of Herod, reappeared and finally stood over the place where the Child was born.
"They brought three gifts: gold to honour His Kingship, frankincense to honour His Divinity, and myrrh to honour His Humanity which was destined for death. Myrrh was used at His burial. The crib and the Cross are related again, for there is myrrh at both.
When the Magi came from the East bringing gifts for the Babe, Herod the Great knew that the time had come for the birth of the King announced clearly to the Jews, and apprehended dimly in the aspirations of the Gentiles. But like all carnal-minded men, he lacked a spiritual sense, and therefore felt certain that the King would be a political one. He made inquiries as to where Christ was to be born. The chief priests and learned men told him, 'At Bethlehem in Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet.' Herod said that he wanted to worship the Babe. But his actions proved that he really meant, 'If this is the Messiah, I must kill Him.'
"Herod will forever be the model of those who make inquiries about religion, but who never act rightly on the knowledge they receive. Head knowledge is worthless, unless accompanied by submission of the will and right action.
"Herod was fearful that He Who came to bring a heavenly crown would steal away his own tinsel one. He pretended that he wanted to bring gifts, but the only gift he wanted to bring was death. Wicked men sometimes hide their evil designs under an appearance of religion: 'I am a religious man, but….' Men can make inquiries about Christ for two reasons, either to worship or to harm. Some would even make use of religion for their evil designs, as Herod made use of the Wise Men. Inquiries about religion do not produce the same results in all hearts. What men ask about Divinity is never as important as why they ask it." (Life of Christ)
Prayer for the Epiphany of the Lord
Dear Jesus, as You led the Three Kings to You by the light of a star, please draw us ever closer to You by the light of Faith. Help us to desire You as ardently as they did. Give us the grace to overcome all the obstacles that keep us far from You. May we, like them, have something to give You when we appear before You. Amen. 🙏💖💐
Food for thought
“Epiphany” means manifestation, and the Epiphany of the Lord is Jesus’ manifestation not only to those three Magi from the East, but it’s also a symbolic but real manifestation of the Christ to the whole world. The Magi, travelling from a foreign and non-Jewish nation, reveal that Jesus came for all people and all are called to adore Him. The Magi fell prostrate before the Christ Child, laying their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration. We should seek to follow their example and adore our Saviour and King with a complete surrender of our life.
This Sunday and every day we should reflect on how we, like the Magi, are called from the “foreign place” of the secular world to seek out the Messiah and submit ourselves completely to Him.
We should also seek to be the Epiphanies of Christ to every person we meet, to bring His Light to the poor and the hungry, the lonely, the abandoned, the sick and the dying, for all of us were made in His Image and Likeness.
The Epiphany Blessing
Marking Homes with Blessed Chalk for the New Year
The ancient custom of marking the door of the home with blessed chalk is a way of incorporating the liturgical feast of the Epiphany as a domestic ritual into the prayer life of the family. Chalk will be blessed at Mass this weekend, then parishioners are welcome to take some home and to mark the lintel of their front door as follows:
20 C + M + B 24
The letters C, M and B stand for the traditional names of the Three Wise Men who came seeking Jesus: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The letters also represent the words Christus Mansionem Benedicat (May Christ Bless this Abode).
Words to be said at home:
Peace be upon this house and with all of us who live here. Amen.
Read aloud Matthew 2:1-2 and conclude with "The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ."
Then continue with these words, whilst making the chalk marks at the names of the wise men and the year:
The Three Wise Men, Caspar (C) Melchior (M) Balthasar (B) followed the light of the star to find Jesus, the Son of God, Who came to live among us Two Thousand (20) and Twenty-four (24) years ago. (+) May Christ bless our home today and (+) remain with us throughout the year.
Let us pray. God of mercy, fill our home with the light and love of Christ that it may be a place of hospitality and welcome. May Christ be our shelter when we are at home, our companion when we are away, and our welcome guest when we return. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.