The Epiphany of the Lord
First reading: Is 60:1-6
Responsoral Psalm: 72:1, 7-8, 10-13
Second reading: Eph 3:2-3, 5-6
Gospel: Mt 2:1-12
By Kevin Perrotta
“Nations shall walk by your light.” “Justice shall flower in his days.” “The lives of the poor he shall save.” The Scripture texts today talk a lot about the future — and, of course, about the past. “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem.” “When King Herod heard of this.” “Then they opened their treasures.”
In the grand future the texts speak of, God will make all things new. In a realm of eternal light, he will rule over everything and everyone. There will be “profound peace.” “Every nation on earth will adore” him.
But that is not yet. At present, there are many “poor” and “afflicted” who cry out and need help. If we “raise (our) eyes and look about” in early 2018, we don’t see the powers that be bowing down to God.
And, by definition, the past has slipped away. Two thousand years ago, God revealed himself (the meaning of “epiphany”) to some wise seekers. They found Jesus, an infant in his mother’s arms. But if we travel to Bethlehem, we won’t see a star; just a town struggling amid political conflict and economic distress.
So is everything the biblical texts are speaking about locked behind us in the past or not yet opened up the future? Isn’t the Epiphany for us, too?
Well, yes! The second reading declares that “God’s grace,” now “made known,” is drawing men and women everywhere (“the gentiles”) into life in his incarnate Son.
By Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have become so connected to him that we “are … members of the same body” — notice that present tense. We’re closer to him than those wise, first-century seekers were.
In our celebration of the Eucharist, we thank God for sending his Son to establish his reign over every mind and heart, every life and relationship, every corner of creation. As we do that, Jesus makes himself present to us — and, through Communion, in us.
In the liturgy, the light of God’s kingdom yet to come illuminates us. We become the community upon whom “the Lord shines,” the people over whom “appears his glory.”
In this light, we go out as his servants to aid in extending his kingdom in the world. Guided by his Spirit, we can “have pity for the lowly.” We can “rescue the poor when he cries out and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.”
Today’s psalm response is: “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” How will you adore him today?
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Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.