All Nations Shall Serve Him: The Epiphany
User’s Guide to Sunday, Jan. 6
Sunday, Jan. 6, is the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Mass Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; Ephesians 3:2-3A, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12.
The readings this week are charged with a powerful truth: Jesus Christ came to earth to offer salvation to everyone. This is the deepest meaning of the world catholic, that is, universal. We see now a shift from the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes to the dawn of the radiant promise made to the entirety of creation.
The Magi from the East, scholars of the skies and of the prophecies surrounding the coming King, become themselves part of their fulfillment: “Nations shall walk by your light and kings by your shining radiance.” “All kings shall pay him homage; all nations shall serve him.” This new King will not only “shepherd my people Israel,” but he extends himself to all and shall rescue all the poor, help all the afflicted and save lives, without boundaries. There are no national borders in this new Kingdom, save those we build around ourselves. Our own lack of love is the only limitation to his power and saving grace.
Although alluded to in the Old Testament, and made manifest in the Gospel this week, it would take time for this truth to be understood fully in the new Christian community. Paul admits in the second reading that “the mystery made known to me by revelation” was “not made known to people in other generations … that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise of Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” God’s self-disclosure is sometimes a slow unfolding. Sometimes, in our own lives, his purposes seem puzzling and are not immediately evident. Sometimes God seems silent. Those are times of trust.
But it is his deepest desire to be known to us, to be known by us. His epiphanies in our lives really are daily happenings, if we know what “stars” to look for — if we have our eyes on heaven, like the “overjoyed” Magi, and are not bent over our own broken and selfish worries, like Herod and his scribes, huddled miserably over their scrolls.
God manifests himself in every detail of our lives and is constantly revealing his love and power in his creation. Every fiery sunrise, cooling breeze and smiling stranger communicates his goodness. Everyday miracles of mercy known only to us are his language of love. Our journeys are lit by a thousand small stars pointing out his plan of salvation for us in the happenings of our lives.
And then we can become occasions of the Lord’s epiphany in the lives of those on the periphery, those lost in their own darkness. By living in a way that manifests that we have been the recipients of “the riches of the sea” and the “wealth of nations” — and we have; just look around at the immense depths of the Church’s treasure: Scripture, saints and sacramental grace — we lead others to “raise their eyes and look about” at what the Lord offers them, too. This was the true task of Israel, first recipient of the gift: Give it away to all the nations.
We become living invitations to others so that they, like the Magi, may “enter the house,” that is, enter into a relationship with Jesus on an ever-deepening level, see him with the eyes of the spirit, prostrate themselves before him in authentic humility, open the treasures of their hearts, and offer their souls as the gift Jesus most desires.
Claire Dwyer blogs about saints, spirituality and the sacred every day
at EventheSparrow.com and contributes regularly
She is editor of SpiritualDirection.com and coordinates adult faith formation
at her parish in Phoenix, where she lives with her husband and their six children.