Epiphany Of The Lord
Theme of the week: God reveals himself to believers and non-believers alike, so that all may inherit His Kingdom. Am I an “unbeliever”?
At the feast of Epiphany, we celebrate the revelation of our Lord to the non-believers. Who are the non-believers? Certainly, they are those who do not know Christ and are yet to be baptised into the faith. However, what about those who are baptised into the faith and do not yet have a relationship with Christ? While they may attend church regularly, know all the prayers and liturgies or perhaps even serve in church ministries; but are their hearts with God? And before we assume the judgement seat and start thinking about who might these be in our church, let us pause and reflect. Ask ourselves this: Am I one of them? Do I live a double life, appearing pious and holy in church but lead a sinful life outside the church? Do I look down on the non-believers? Do I gossip? Do I lie? Do I pirate software and music? Am I lustful? Do I forgive those who wrong me; and seek forgiveness from those I wrong? Am I so desensitised by sins that I find excuse to justify them and are no longer ashamed of them? If so, let the Lord reveal himself to me on this Feast of Epiphany.
The historical background of the First Reading is the period when the Jews had just returned from their exile to Babylon. The sight that confronted them upon their return must have been rather disheartening – their city ruined and the temple destroyed. This passage offers the people a word of encouragement – that the Lord will once again lead them to greatness. Through my sins, am I in exile too? If so, do not be disheartened. “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (verse 1). In the passage, as the Jews renewed their relationship with God in verse 6, they are joined by Gentiles coming from Midian, Ephah and Sheba, coming with gifts to pay homage to the Lord. Do not look down on the non-believing and non-practising, for they too are the sons and daughters of God. The Jews do not believe in the universality of salvation, instead believing that only those who were members of the Jewish religion may be saved. This is not unlike what some Christians believe today, that only members of the Christian religion may be saved. The Second Reading proclaims that salvation is offered to believers and non-believers alike. Verse 6 tells us that “the Gentiles [non-believers] have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”. Know that this message does not just go out to the non-believers. It also goes to those of us in the faith who live lives inconsistent with our faith. Epiphany is a call to conversion, those outside the faith and those inside the faith.
The Gospel tells the story of the Magi (or wise men) from the east coming to pay Jesus homage, gifting Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We do not know where exactly these Magi came from, but what we do know is that they are Gentiles and in-line with the message of Epiphany, they are among the first people to accept Jesus as Lord. In contrast, King Harod (a Roman, and hence a Gentile too) conspired with the Jewish chief priests to try and harm the child Jesus. From this popular Christmas story, we learn that one does not earn salvation through one’s racial, cultural or even religious heritage; rather we are saved by what we believe and how we live out those beliefs. At Epipanhy, let us walk closer with Christ and help others develope a closer relationship with Him.
Have a blessed New Year, everyone.