Sunday, January 6, 2013

Epiphany


Today we celebrate the feast of our Lords epiphany, his manifestation. This feast day is important to us because it reminds us that Christ came for everyone. Jesus is the Messiah promised to the people of Israel, he is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, he was born of the house of David, but he comes with a universal mission.  He came to save all people.  Today We celebrate Jesus' manifestation to all the nations.
So these magi represent all of us; if you stop and think about it, they represent all the Gentiles and all the people of the earth. We should be inspired by their courage, they travelled great distances to approach the Savior, they faced difficulties with king Herod, but still they were not deterred, why?  Why would they go through all this hassle, this difficult journey?  It's because of this baby, because of who they believe him to be. He must obviously be quite special for them to undertake this trip, but their gifts tell us more about who they believed Jesus to be.
Gold has always been a valuable metal. Normal people do not have access to large quantities of gold. In the Bible, gathering gold was the job of the king, since gold was able to be used to sustain the kingdom. The magi's gift of gold shows that they believed that this was the newborn king. Frankincense is a fragrant sap, it was burned in the temple. This gift on incense might seem strange, what would a baby do with incense? I mean I like to play with incense here at church, but what would a baby do with it. But, the point of the incense is what it means, it means that the magi recognize Jesus as being God. The myrrh is perhaps the strangest gift. This spice was used to preserve bodies for burial. Why would anyone give a baby myrrh, it would be like giving a coffin as a baby shower gift, again it says something about this baby: his greatest achievement will be his death. In a way this gift is the pinnacle of the other 2: Jesus shows he is king and God when he defeats sin and death, when he puts these things under his rule.
The gifts of the Magi show us that they believe Jesus to be king, God, and Messiah. No wonder they came to do him homage.
But I was thinking this week, don't we do the same thing? Every week we make a pilgrimage here to St Matt's. Every week we bring him our gifts, not gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but our very lives, hearts, we give ourselves to Christ. And just like he did to those magi he manifests himself to us, an epiphany takes place at every mass, if we have the eyes to see it. Christ comes to us not as a little baby this time but in the sacrament of his body and blood.
No wonder we make this pilgrimage, because right here at this mass we see Jesus. And we believe and profess that he is the divine king who died to save us. This is why we worship here at the mass. The mass is not simply the gathering of a community, but it is a gathering precisely for us to bend our knees in worship of Christ our savior.
               But, alas, the mass cannot last forever, I know many people think it lasts long enough already.  But just like these magi we return to our daily lives after spending this time in the presence of God; but listen again to what the gospel says about the magi, it says they went home by another path.  This is a great way to describe how our experience of worship here at mass should have an impact on our lives. We all make a pilgrimage to get here, and afterwards we all return to our daily lives, but hopefully we don't go home the same as we arrived. 

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