January 4, 2015 – The Epiphany of the Lord

Lectionary: 20

We continue in the book of Isaiah.  He prophesies of the forgiveness and mercy of God.

Reading 1 IS 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,

the glory of the Lord shines upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth,

and thick clouds cover the peoples;

but upon you the LORD shines,

and over you appears his glory.

Nations shall walk by your light,

and kings by your shining radiance.

Raise your eyes and look about;

they all gather and come to you:

your sons come from afar,

and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

God has forgiven Jerusalem their iniquities and shown mercy upon them.  He has freed them from the oppression of the Gentiles.  Therefore, Isaiah is prophesying the good news to the Jews.  It is both, the good news of their liberation from the Babylonians.  And the good news of the coming of the Messiah.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,

your heart shall throb and overflow,

for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,

the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.

This is prophetic in more than one way.  Our heart shall throb because God will write His commandments in our heart and give us a heart of flesh to replace our heart of stone.  And overflow because God shall pour the grace of the Holy Spirit into our hearts when we are born again in Baptism.  Now, the Latin word for “sea” is “mar” and Mary’s womb shall be emptied out when she brings for the Messiah.

The wealth of the nations is the Pearl of great price and His name is Jesus Christ, who shall be made manifest, the mystery which has been kept secret from of Old.

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, of course, prophecies the coming of the Three Kings or Magi from the Orient.  But it is a veiled prophecy of the inclusion of the Gentiles, who will, in the New Testament times, convert in great numbers when the Gospel is proclaimed to them.  

Acts 13:46 (NABRE)

46 Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13.

R. (cf. 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

This prefigures the coming of the Gentiles into covenant with God in the New Testament era.  

O God, with your judgment endow the king,

and with your justice, the king’s son;

He shall govern your people with justice

and your afflicted ones with judgment.

This speaks of King Solomon, who was given wisdom to judge the people of God.  His wisdom was such that no other man before or since could compare.  But, Jesus Christ, the Son of David, was prefigured by King Solomon.  Jesus Christ is Wisdom Itself, because He is the Word of God made flesh.

R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Justice shall flower in his days,

and profound peace, till the moon be no more.

May he rule from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Solomon’s rule was great.  But it was nothing compared to the worldwide rule of the Catholic Church through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;

the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.

All kings shall pay him homage,

all nations shall serve him.

Today, there is hardly a nation upon this earth that does not have a representative of the Catholic Church within its borders, worshipping Jesus Christ.

R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,

and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.

He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;

the lives of the poor he shall save.

This is so hard for me to understand.  Because I still see so many poor and helpless who are crying out for God and yet are still suffering on this earth.  But I am comforted by the fact that Scripture says that those who suffer are sons of God and only through suffering will we receive the inheritance of the glory of God with Jesus Christ, who suffered and died upon the Cross to give us an example to follow.

R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Reading 2 EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:

You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace

that was given to me for your benefit,

namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.

It was not made known to people in other generations

as it has now been revealed

to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,

and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

What is this mystery of which St. Paul so often speaks?  It is the mystery of the revelation of Christ.  The mystery that Christ is hidden in the Old Testament and revealed in the New.  The mystery that all humankind is called to live the Commandments and do the will of God.  The mystery that we are, all humankind, united in Christ.  

Alleluia MT 2:2

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

We saw his star at its rising

and have come to do him homage.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Have you ever wondered, “what is this star?”, that the Three Magi saw?  It is one of those mysteries.   It is the “Rising Star.”  It is the “Light of the Nations.”  

Isaiah 42:6 I, the Lord, have called you for justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,

2 Peter 1:19 Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

 This Rising Star is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit informed Three Magi that He was soon to be born and in the form of a star, led them to His birthplace.

Gospel MT 2:1-12

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.”

The Three Kings or Magi, were Gentiles.  Yet, the Holy Spirit had informed them of the coming of the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and they were the first Gentiles to give Him worship.

When King Herod heard this,

he was greatly troubled,

and all Jerusalem with him.

King Herod was troubled because that newborn King was His competition.  Jerusalem was troubled because the Jews were awaiting the coming of the Messiah which was prophecied in the Old Testament.  

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.”

King Herod knew the customs of the Jews and had heard of the Messiah.  So, he got the Jewish leaders together and found out where they expected the King of the Jews to be born.  And they informed him that it was prophecied it would be Bethlehem.  The city of Bread.

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.”

So, Herod found the Three Magi and tried to use them to find the newborn King.

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.

And the Star which they had been following, rose again and led them to the place where the Messiah was.

They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary his mother.

They were very happy.  And they entered the place and saw the newborn King with His mother, Mary.

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.

They worshipped Him and gave Him gifts.  But they did not return to Herod, as they had promised, because they had been warned, in a dream, that he meant to do harm to the child.  So, they departed in secret by another way.

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