Epiphany, manifestation, revelation. These words more or less mean the same thing, some great, wonderful, mind-bending or life-changing experience. But who are these wise men and what exactly are we or they seeking? Is it goodness, integrity, justice in the face of fraud, corruption and abuse? (One wonders how names of blatantly dishonest politicians can be chosen again as possible future parliamentarians.) In our daily reflection for 6 January the focus was on religion and the need for interreligious dialogue. Pope Francis preached “God’s gentle light shines in humble love,” in simple settings not in palaces and rich settings. However in his World Day of Peace message he wrote of politics in the service of peace and has been increasingly outspoken on the issue of clerical abuse.
In some traditions the Wise Men were seen as kings. This is because of the Old Testament references and the symbolic gifts they brought. Gold can symbolise kingship and wealth, frankincense worship and priesthood and myrrh, the embalming oil, a foretaste of death and of sacrifice. They can be seen as symbolising Jesus’ mission as priest, prophet and king with the star being symbolic of him as the Light of the World. How can these spiritual symbols be personalised and linked with how we live our baptismal calling in our own everyday life where life-changing experiences of God’s love can happen in all kinds of settings that are unique for each family and each individual.
“Lift up your eyes and look around, all are assembling and coming towards you, your sons from far away and your daughters being tenderly carried.” Is 60:3
Think too along universal lines as in this 2003 Epiphany story. “The wise men had travelled far. They had come from the west, all the way from the US. Across oceans and deserts they had come in their warships and tanks, their troop carriers and fighter planes. An anomaly. In the cause of peace they had come to fight a war, a war against terrorism, against fanaticism.
From the east other wise men had come bringing a message of non-violence, of quiet meditation and disciplined action. From the north had come wise men preaching prosperity as the answer to poverty and misery while from the south cries of misery and demands for rights and for justice and an end to wars resounded. And across the globe people of many nations migrated. Who were they seeking? Who has the answers in this modern era?
The wise men who came to a stable in Bethlehem brought their gifts. But their presence revealed a new king and a different kingdom. It roused king Herod’s burning jealousy and many innocent children were reportedly murdered. Infants are still murdered for selfish reasons. More babies have died through abortion than in all the wars in human history and abuse is a regular occurrence. Who has the answers?
How will Jesus be revealed in 2019? Will it be in the churches, the temples, mosques and synagogues. Will it be in the democratic courts of justice or humbly in a home, a shack, a flat, any house that love has turned into a home? Has he, will Jesus be revealed in your home by the wise ones when God’s blessing is shared.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you. May he look kindly on you and give you his peace. And may God bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
FAMILY WEEKLY 9 JANUARY. MARFAM’s 2019 theme is EVERY FAMILY MATTERS. Promoting this is our mission through our various activities and resources.