The party is over. It’s time to work!

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. It marks the end of the Christmas celebrations in the liturgical calendar of the Church, and the start of Ordinary Time.

Jan 05, 2024

Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Bro Lincoln Lee

Epiphany of the Lord (B)
Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6;
Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6;
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. It marks the end of the Christmas celebrations in the liturgical calendar of the Church, and the start of Ordinary Time. We celebrate the manifestation of Jesus Christ, as Son of God and Saviour of the World, not only for the Jews but for all humanity. Therefore, the Church celebrates the Feast of Epiphany as the revelation of Jesus, the Son of God to the world.

The main characters in today’s Gospel reading, the three magi, were one of the first people to seek Christ. They ironically were not of the Jewish faith, yet they were the first who recognised and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God. They travelled long distances to Bethlehem to seek Christ, to pay homage to baby Jesus, bringing with them the gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh to adore the saviour of the world. Upon their encounter with the baby Jesus, they took a different way home, avoiding their previous perilous route.

With the last of the turkey leftovers consumed, the pots of pork varuvel polished clean, the wrapping papers have been recycled and the lights on the Christmas tree blinks silently in the background, we conclude our annual Christmas celebration with the Feast of the Epiphany. It reminds us that there is much more to this season beyond the Carols and festive feastings. The season of Christmas is also about a call and response to mission.

Mission begins with a call, and the magi received a call to mission through their understanding of Isaiah’s prophecy. In their study of scripture, they discern that they were called to pay homage to the infant king of the Jews. Along their journey, they consulted King Herod and the chief priests for further direction. Just as when we are called to mission or to respond to the call of our vocation in life, we undergo a period of discernment. We often need guidance in our discernment, and we find it through our spiritual directors and priest; or even to be guided by a moving star.

Following the period of discernment, the magi chose to embark on a long journey from the east, persevering over desert and mountainous terrain because of their conviction and commitment to their mission. This was their response to their call to pay homage to the King of the Jews. In this conviction, they chose to leave their comfort zone, and to trust in the ancient prophecies embedded in scripture. Similarly when we respond to our calling, it requires a level of commitment and conviction. We are compelled to leave our comfort zone for the unknown and to place our faith in God. A call requires a response of sacrifice and perseverance just as that exhibited by the magi.

Upon reaching Bethlehem, they found baby Jesus, and paid homage to Him. They brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, in recognition of Jesus’s Kingship, His Divinity and His passion death and resurrection. When we respond to God’s call, regardless in mission or vocation, we will encounter Christ. In our vocation and mission in life, it is also imperative that we always seek Christ through the Eucharist and the Sacraments of the Church. It is in this encounter with Christ, just as the magi, we too bring with us our gifts, albeit in the humble form of our brokenness and pains, our hopes, our joys and our dreams, which in the very same way reflects our recognition of Jesus’s divinity, sovereignty and salvific actions over our lives.

Finally, the personal encounter with Christ, changes us. Just as the magi, after paying homage to the baby Jesus, received the message to change their route back to the east, to avoid Herod. When we have experienced Jesus Christ, we cannot but be changed in our lives. This experience will compel us to change our ways, and leave our sinful evil past, as we continue our journey in our calling. Furthermore, when we respond to God’s call, we must be ready to cooperate with graces given in order to change ourselves into the image and likeness of Christ.

Therefore, the Feast of the Epiphany, is not only a celebration of the revelation of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God and saviour of the world for all humanity but it is also a call to our mission and vocation here on earth. The season of Advent was a preparation for the coming of Christ. Christmas was to welcome the Christ in the manger of our hearts, and thus now that we have received Christ, we too are sent on mission to the world. We have received the call, we need to respond to it, we need to seek and encounter Christ in our lives, and we need to change our lives.

The party is now over. It’s time to get to work!

(Bro Lincoln Lee from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur is a seminarian in his seventh year of formation. He has recently concluded his Second Year Theology Studies in St Peter’s College Major Seminary, Kuching.)

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