The Epiphany of the Lord and the Arrival of the magi

January 3rd 2016

As we continue to celebrate the Christmas Season today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord and the Arrival of the magi. They were from the East which is the pagan world. Even though they were not Jewish they looked for the fulfillment of the Jewish prophecies in order to discover the newborn king of the Jews so that they may give him homage. That means they were seeking for truth and studied the scriptures to discover it. On the other hand, King Herod, hardly knew anything about the prophecies. He was not looking for something greater than himself. His gaze was upon his earthly possessions, and even though he was Jewish his religion no longer meant anything to him. While Herod was preoccupied with things here below, the Magi looked up to the heavens and were guided by a star.

What guides your life? What are you seeking? Are you satisfied with your possessions or do you want something more? It is not uncommon today to have people say they are Catholic but really don’t seek to grow deeper in their faith. They may celebrate Christmas but it is in a more material way and not in a spiritual way. But then there are those who come from outside our religion who are seeking to discover something more than what this world can offer. For them Christmas is something that attracts them because they seek someone to guide their life, a shepherd, someone that they can trust and give homage to. A king.

So we should not take our religion for granted but truly seek to find Jesus in a new a deeper way. We should try to turn our gaze away from the material things of life and the worries of this world and look up to Heaven in prayer. God can send us signs from above to guide us and help us to discover a better way in life but often we don’t see them because we, like Herod, are not paying attention, we are not living our faith. These signs can be something in nature, or some world event, or a person that God puts in our path. What signs from Heaven are you receiving? Which ones are you missing? Are you paying attention? How much time do you waste surfing the internet, or spend gazing at the news which seems to fill us with anxiety? How much time do you spend gazing up to Heaven or reading the scriptures so that God can fill you with hope, peace, and joy?

Whether a person is a Christian or not, the birth of Jesus is a reality that affects the whole world. It is like a star in the sky. Whether or not you see it, the star is really there. And if you pay attention and discover it, it can guide you be its light. Everyone needs guidance in life by a higher source. Everyone needs God in their life. But some think they are fine on their own and so refuse the demands of being guided by God’s light, his truth, his love. Some think living the Christian life is a burden: Prayer, going to Mass every Sunday, following the teachings of the Catholic Church are too much trouble. But to others the presence of Christ brings joy, meaning, and purpose to their life. It is the difference between the attitude of Herod and the attitude of the magi. When Herod heard about the newborn king, the Gospel says “he was greatly troubled.” However, we hear that the magi had a different reaction: They were “overjoyed” in the presence of the child. How does the presence of Christ affect your life? Does he bring you joy? Or is being a Christian something that disturbs your way of life, it’s too hard or inconvenient?

We see the reaction of Herod who said he wanted to give homage to Jesus but he really wanted to destroy him. However, the magi opened up their treasures to him. Are you generous to Jesus? Some Catholics don’t give anything to the Church, hardly any reverence, hardly any time, hardly any of their treasure. The magi gave Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. Have you ever given anyone gold? You have to really love someone to do that because you are giving something very precious. How much more does Jesus deserve our love and best efforts? The Frankincense represents our worship and prayer. That is why we use incense in Mass because we are in the presence of God and we come to worship him. And myrrh is oil used for anointing, commonly used for preparing someone for burial. We know Jesus was born to die for the sins of the world. And we know that we too will pass from this life and so we don’t want to be stingy but generous with the Lord who has given us so much.

It is a New Year, a time to have a new beginning. In this New Year let us resolve not to be like Herod, stingy, greedy, and concerned only about our own life here below. But let us try to become more like the Magi who left their old way of life to seek something greater. Let us open up our minds and be guided by things above not the things below. Let us pray more, study the scriptures more, be more generous in opening our treasures to the Church, and not be just Catholic in word but in deed. Let us not be afraid to seek the Lord more, to grow in our faith and our relationship with him who was born to set the whole world free.

Everyone needs the Lord. Everyone needs Jesus. We just need to know where to find him. The Gospel describes where the magi found him: “…on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage.” Mary is our guiding star that leads us to the light of her Son. She is here to help us to get closer to Jesus, to not be afraid of showing signs of love, giving him more reverence, even when others are looking! This Saturday January 9th, I invite all parishioners to prepare to re-consecrate our parish to Jesus through Mary by praying for 33 days until February 11th. If you still have the books that we used during our consecration three years ago you can use them or you can pray the Rosary for 33 days, or there are several online sources you can use for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Let us start the New Year of right and appreciate this great gift of God’s Revelation of the Light of the World that we have rediscovered and let us do all we can to give ourselves to him more completely and follow a new way of life.

Father Timothy J. Gallagher

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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