No need to walk in the dark any longer

Sharon Priester

By Sharon Priester

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord/Jan. 7

Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,10-11,12-13; Ephesians 3:2-3a,5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

Each year, on a Sunday between Jan. 2 and 8, there is a special solemnity in Catholic churches in the United States — the celebration of Epiphany. It is a special church festival in commemoration of the coming of the magi as the first manifestation or appearance of Christ to the Gentiles, showing God to the world.

The readings for Epiphany begin with Isaiah 60:1-6. The people in Judah have been in captivity in Babylon and have returned. “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” Isaiah is telling the people who were once in exile and unsure as to whether they would experience God’s presence among them that this is different. They have been set free and are being called to a place where they can enjoy the light of God and His presence. A new life begins for the people of Jerusalem.

The people who had been in exile began a new life, enjoying the light of God and His presence. The magi followed the light to find the Christ Child. God’s light leads us there for all time.

In today’s passage from the Gospel of Matthew, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem follows. The magi from the east, having seen “his” (Christ) star are searching for the “newborn king of the Jews” and want to pay him homage. Herod, the king, hearing this, was troubled and asked the magi to bring back word to him so he, too, could pay homage to this child. (Matthew 2:1-12)

When the magi arrived at the place where the child was born, they saw the child and his mother, Mary. They bowed before them, paid their homage and offered their gifts of gold (symbolizing royalty), frankincense (used in worship), and myrrh (a burial ointment), a symbol of Jesus’ humanity. Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi returned to their country in a completely different way. Mary and Joseph, with Jesus, were directed by God to safety.

DRAWN TO CHRIST’S LIGHT

The people who had been in exile began a new life, enjoying the light of God and His presence. The magi followed the light to find the Christ Child. God’s light leads us there for all time.

Maybe there are times you feel alone and in the dark and need a light to guide you and help you along the way. God is always there to help you.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, sometimes in our lives, there seems to be only darkness. We grow tired, frightened, even hopeless. Please be with us, light our way and bring us to a place where you can guide us. Amen.

Sharon Priester has served as a parish catechist and director of religious education, Bible study leader, RCIA team member and coordinator, and regional director of religious education for the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.

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