Manifestations of Jesus: The Star of Bethlehem
Christmas Season: Solemnity of the Epiphany
A survey was made among school children asking the question why they enjoyed reading Harry Potter novels and watching Harry Potter movies. The most common answer was, “Because you never know what’s going to happen next.” This same sense of suspense and surprise prompted us to watch the episodes of the Star War movies. The same desire for epiphany with the thrill and suspense awaiting them prompted adults to watch James Bond films and encouraged the great explorers like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus to make risky and adventurous journeys.
It is the same curiosity which led the Magi to follow the star of Bethlehem. An element of suspense marked every moment in the journey of the Magi, who never knew what road the Spirit of God was going to take them down next.
Today’s readings invite us to have the same curiosity as explorers and movie fans do, so that we may discover the “epiphany,” or manifestation, or Self- revelation, of our God in every person and every event, everywhere. Are we, like the Three Wise Men, passionate enough to seek the Lord and open enough to receive the True Light who is Christ ... the Emmanuel?
The Epiphany is the manifestation of the length to which God has gone in order to be close to us. Epiphany is the manifestation of God’s caring for us, God’s loving us, God’s loving us to the point where He actually becomes one of us in order to give His heart to us, but more importantly so that we could give our hearts to Him. God comes to us in our humanity so that He can be close to us and we can be close to Him. Because God loves us so much He comes to us so that we can belong to each other and to Him.
In our seeking, what does the star “manifest” to us about the newborn King?
1. To manifest that salvation is for all! It was the star that united or brought together people from all walks of life with different preoccupations, cultural origin and social classes … Magi (wise men), shepherd, women and children signifying oneness in the Kingdom that infant king is about to establish. More importantly, as they are gathered together to the manger, they are directed to their Savior and true king, the Emmanuel – “God with us.”
A new Magi story: In this story, the three wise men, Gaspar, Balthassar and Melchior, were three different ages. Gaspar was a young man, Balthassar a middle-aged man and Melchior an elderly man. They found a cave where the Holy One was and entered to do him homage one at a time. Melchior the old man entered first. He found an old man like himself in the cave. They shared stories and spoke of memory and gratitude. Middle-aged Balthassar entered next. He found a man his own age there. They spoke passionately about leadership and responsibility. Young Gaspar was the last to enter. He found a young prophet waiting for him. They spoke about reform and promise. Afterward when the three kings spoke to each other about their encounter with the Christ, they were shocked at each other’s stories. So, they got their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh together and all three went into the cave. They found a baby there, the infant Jesus only twelve days old. There is a deep message here. Jesus reveals himself to all people, at all stages of their lives, whether they are Jew or Gentile. (Fr. Pellegrino).
How must we minister to all regardless of our differences? How must we minister to different nationalities? How must we become more inclusive in our proclamation.
2. To manifest HOPE in the midst of world that seems to lose hope in God. Epiphany is a celebration that reminds us of our basic and primary duty, that is, to give hope to those who may have lost it. We live in the most trying times of our history, but we can survive this, only if we give up our comforts and start reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need, the oppressed ones in society.
Three Wise Women: While they were talking about the story of the three wise men, a woman asked her parish priest this question, "Do you know why God gave the star to the wise men?" When he professed his ignorance, she told him: "God knows men are too proud to ask directions. If there had been three wise women instead of three wise men, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and given some practical gifts!”
At the start of the New Year, the Holy Father apologized for ‘poor example’ as he issued a harsh condemnation of violence against women. He said in that occasion, “By how we treat a woman’s body, we can understand our level of humanity.” Women who are discriminated against in some parts of the world could hear this as a message of hope. Women, children, immigrants, the elderly, LGBTQ alike are all God’s children. The star shines on everyone and illumines God’s light of HOPE to all mankind. That star on Christmas day, overcame darkness and gave light to all!
3. To manifest the TRUTH as the Star symbolizes light. We are all in search of LIGHT, the STAR that the Magi followed which directed them to the king. Our world today craves for intellectual enlightenment which will dispel the darkness of mental and moral ignorance. We hardly know the Truth. With all the “truths” we find everywhere, we cannot clearly discern which ones are in accord to the teachings of our Catholic Church. We seemed to be misguided by a different STAR, a different LIGHT so much closer to the darkness of ignorance. We are misguided by adhering to fake news and by not seeking the true light from sacred scripture. Moreover, for Christian truth, it has its reference on God testified by the Word of God … the same truth which led the Magi to the newborn King! As we are created in God’s image and likeness who is TRUTH, GOODNESS and BEAUTY so are we as His creatures.
Let us therefore, be a LIGHT to other people. Epiphany manifested to the three Magi who the true light is, Jesus Christ. By seeing the Child in a manger, they knew right away that he was the king they’re looking for. They were illumined by His light. They knew that all their treasures were not enough as presents/gifts to the child-king. It was their generous hearts with their desire to help everyone regardless of their origin and societal classes; their hearts who could give hope to those who may have lost it; and their hearts that could give LIGHT and enlightenment to those who are lost that he’s asking from them … and to all of us here present he asks the same thing. Would you give the newborn king what He desires? Like the Three Wise Men, do we bother to even look for Him? Are we passionate enough with out seeking?
God bless us all and a Happy New Year to one and all!