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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Epiphany! The Light has Come into the World

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Epiphany of the Lord, Jan 7, 2018
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

Today we come to the end of the Christmas
season. The Feast of Epiphany calls us to keep our eyes focused on the Light that has come into our world through the manifestation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Epiphany means "a moment of sudden revelation or insight." So we can see today’s Gospel message as the revelation of the Kingdom of God in our world. Our Lord came as a small baby, the Incarnation of God and the K
ing of the new world to come.

At His first coming,supernatural signs accompanied His presence. In the Gospel of Luke we hear that a host of angels appear to shepherds in the fields to point the way to this newborn King. They dance in the sky proclaiming “Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people on earth.”

In today’s Gospel (Matt 2:1-12), there is a supernatural sign in the manifestation of a star. We hear of the Magi or so called “wise men” who were astrologers. Although these
men were considered pagans, their hearts were open to the revelation given through the prophets of old that a deliverer would at some time in history be born in Bethlehem which is the ancestral home of King David.

We hear of this prophecy in today’s first reading from Isaiah who says, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you… Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance… Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.”

This prophecy from Isaiah is fulfilled in today’s Gospel when the Magi come to worship the Infant Christ. They honour Baby Jesus and do Him homage, bringing gifts of frankincense and gold. These two gifts had a spiritual meaning: the gold represented the symbol of Our Lord’s kingship and the frankincense, or  perfume, represented the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet, there was a third gift the Magi brought -- myrrh. This third gift is associated with Jesus's death, necessary for the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God.  It is when Our Lord comes the second time that His kingdom will be established in its fullness. Then the prophecy of today’s first reading (Isaiah 60:1-6)will be fulfilled:  “Nations shall walk by [His] light, and kings by [His] shining radiance.”

My brothers and sisters, as we celebrate today’s Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us rejoice because we have a King and Saviour! Let us praise God for the light of His Kingdom that has come upon the darkness of the earth.

Let us be reminded, however, that as we wait,  we are truly in a battle. While today’s Gospel focuses on the Magi, we learn of another individual who also wanted to be led to our Lord Jesus Christ. This is King Herod. The Magi could see the star of Our Lord, but King Herod could not. Herod could not see past his own selfish desires for power and control. For, the same child honoured by the Magi, Herod sought to kill. We are reminded that until Our Lord comes again, we are locked in a spiritual battle between the light of Christ and the darkness of evil.

My brothers and sisters, let us open our hearts to the revelation of Our Lord Jesus
Fr. John Paul Shea
Christ, the Light of the world. He has come to save us from our sins. He has come to establish the kingdom of His Father.

In the meantime, be strong in your faith. Faith is the guiding star that leads us into the kingdom. 

Our Blessed Mother will help us. She too is a guiding star. If we devote ourselves to Mary, she always leads us to Her Son. She points
us in the right direction. Call upon the protection of Our Blessed Mother! She is there for our conversion and repentance. She -- the Mother waiting at the foot of the cross -- asks us to pray the Rosary for souls that might be lost.

As we celebrate the Epiphany in this New Year of 2018, let us focus our hearts on the light of Christ because we have been given the gift of salvation. Let us be led by His star of Truth. “For darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon [us] the LORD shines.”  Stand firm in your faith.

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