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Leading Others to the Light
The Epiphany of the Lord
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the light of the world. I believe that you are present here and now. I believe that you desire me to come to you and ask you for that which I need. Lord, I ask that your light shine ever more brightly in my life so that I may follow you more faithfully in every aspect of my life. Lord, I believe all that you have revealed through your Church. I hope in your goodness, trusting that you give me all that I need to come to eternal life with you. I love you, Lord, above all things because you first loved me.
- They Saw the Star: Today’s solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of God’s unfolding plan that all people would know and come to Christ. The magi were wise men, astrologers, and the first Gentiles to recognize Jesus. They were led to him by a star. This can remind us that creation reveals God (CCC 36, 288). Nevertheless, for the final directions, the magi needed to rely on Herod, who then turned to the chief priests and scribes for help in finding Jesus. Today, it is not uncommon to hear people say that they are spiritual but not religious or that they find God in nature. They haven’t quite zeroed in on where to find Christ. They’ve only taken a first step and might need further help from us. We can pray that our Lord continues to work in the hearts of our family and friends who make these or similar statements, that they will come to follow the Light out of the shadows and into the glory of his radiance. Then, we can be ready to answer their questions and encourage them on their journey.
- Where Is He?: Just as the magi had to ask for directions, so we, too, need to attune ourselves to revelation and look for “directions.” The culmination of God’s revelation of himself is in Christ, and we come to know the fullness of his revelation in Scripture and tradition, the teaching of the Church. St. Jerome is often quoted: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” We turn to Scripture daily, pondering how the Lord is speaking to us today through his word. Similarly, we take time to grow in our understanding of the faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an invaluable tool for reference, and it also provides an important resource for reflection on the truths of the faith and how we live them in our personal lives.
- They Offered Gifts: The gifts offered–gold, frankincense, and myrrh–were precious. They indicated the high esteem in which the magi held Jesus. In the song “The Little Drummer Boy,” the child laments that he has nothing of value to bring Jesus until he realizes that he can share his talent with the baby. He gives of himself. Likewise, we can offer precious gifts of self to Our Lord. We can offer all that we are through our sacrifices of self-will and preferences, and by embracing the sufferings that God allows in our lives. We offer ourselves through prayer, worship, and adoration. We can offer ourselves in service, putting our particular gifts and talents to work to build Christ’s Kingdom.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you have revealed yourself in creation, in Scripture, and in the teachings of the Church. I see your light in the lives of those who strive to be close to you in all they do and say. Jesus, I know you want me to know you more deeply. Help me see how I can live your truth more fully. Let me see the obstacles that keep me from a deeper union with you. Let me desire nothing more than to live for you. Fill me with the zeal of the magi to follow your light wherever it leads.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take time to go outside and find something specific in nature that speaks to me of you, and I will take a few minutes to pray with this insight.
For Further Reflection: Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, is a short (about seven pages) document from Vatican II.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband, Chris, live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.
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