The Epiphany of the Lord
Surprisingly, in today’s Gospel of Matthew, the first people to visit Baby Jesus and pay homage to Him were Gentiles who travelled from another country, not Jews who lived close by. The Greek word “Epiphany” (epiphanos) meaning appearance or manifestation or showing up, describes Jesus’ first appearance to the world. And the foreign visitors, the searchers from the east, represent the entire world.
A major theme in Matthew’s gospel is that God’s salvation extends beyond Jesus’ immediate Jewish community to include the Gentiles as well as the Jews. In other words, God’s love embraces all. The visit of the Magi is a message of inclusion at the very beginning of Jesus’ life. We hear this message of inclusion again in Jesus’ final commission: “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you”. (Mt. 28: 19-20)
In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells the Ephesians: “the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” In God’s mind, there are no insiders nor outsiders. As members of the same body, we are interconnected in a common life. So, as we begin 2022, how does the feast of Epiphany’s message of inclusion effect our relationships? Do we really believe God is calling us to an ever-deepening inclusion, to extend our arms and hearts as Jesus did, to embrace the whole world?
And so, we may ask ourselves:
Are most of our days spent with those who look like us, live like us, worship like us, and think like us? The Magi went way beyond their comfort zones in search of Jesus. Can we do the same?
Do we trust that we will gain from being with those different from ourselves? Can we make the commitment to hone our skills in dialog, and in cultural literacy this year?
As citizens, where does the message of Jesus’ Epiphany lead us this year? Will the public policies we choose to support serve to break down the barriers to inclusion in our own country and around the world? Will the suffering of those discriminated against because they are “Other” disturb us to action? Will we hear the calls from those on the margins of this world?
May all our travels of the heart and mind and soul this year end as happily as they did for the Magi:
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage. ~ Matthew 2:10-11
Patty Gillis is a retired Pastoral Minister. She served on the Board of Directors at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit. She is currently a member of the Laudato Si Vision Fulfillment Team and the Passionist Solidarity Network.