The Epiphany of the Lord

Three Wise Men Responded to Three Figures

Joke: An Eight-year-old asked, "How come the kings brought perfume to Jesus? What kind of gift is that for a baby?" His Nine-year-old sister answered, "Haven't you ever smelled a barn? With all the dirty animals around, Mary needed something to freshen the air."

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. There are at least three important figures that we are invited to ponder. These three important figures symbolizes of SMJ, not Shaking My Junk, but Star Magi and Jesus. What is the significant of the three and how do they correlate within all today’s readings?

The star, as Ephrem, one of the Church Fathers in the second century explains that it appears because the prophets had disappeared (the last one was John the Baptist). As much as the prophets proclaim in words and in deeds, the star hastens to explain who the Messiah is not by words nor by deeds but by the sign, the bright light, that destroys the “darkness of the earth,” the web of sins, as describes in today’s first reading, taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, “thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you, the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.” The star that shines through the darkness of sins and the thick clouds of what is envy, infidelity, unkind, angry, disobedient, drunkenness, lustful, and many more crooked ways of life. Just as the Spirit guides and protects the prophets to do ministries that God asked them to do, the star is the Spirit that guides and protects the Magi leading them to the newborn King of Israel.

Just as the magi came from the East accepted the light and followed the light in searching for the newborn King, have we opened up ourselves to accept and to follow the light which was entrusted to us at our baptism? Or do we prefer to stay in the West where the sun sets brings darkness to cover the earth? Have we preferred the darkness of sins rather following the light of Christ in our Christian journey here on earth? The Magi opened their treasures and offered the newborn King gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Just as the magi searched for the newborn King, guided by the star, have we allowed the stars which are the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church to guide and to form our consciousness and our actions in searching for the kingdom of God here on earth?

Last but not least, the baby Jesus, the newborn King, has born that the shepherds and the magi came from afar to adore the Savior, but there were also some people who ignored and tried to kill him. Who were these people? And why did they ignore and tried to kill the baby Jesus?

King Herod was raised up to kingship through the Roman Empire, the Roman government. He was the king of the Jews, but the wise men came and asked him, where was the newborn king of Israel? Herod was afraid to lose his seat that he secretly sent the magi with his words, reported in today’s Gospel, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After the magi found the baby Jesus, they were warned in a dream, reported in today’s Gospel, “not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.” Have you and I been afraid of losing benefits either for ourselves or for our loved one(s) that we might not stand for the truth? Have you and I ever been afraid of losing power, losing control, losing interest, or whatever it is that we liar, cheat, and mistrust others?

Not only King Herod was afraid to lose his seat, his power to try to kill the baby Jesus, but also his chief priests and scribes, reported in today’s Gospel, they all knew exactly where and when the Savior, the newborn King of Israel was born, but they didn’t come to adore the King because of afraid to lose their power as well. Living in this society, there are so many attractions available to us that some of us ignore to come to thank the Lord for his sacrifice in the Eucharist to feed us and to nurture us on our spiritual journey here on earth. Is there any moment that you and I have been ignored to come to Mass for whatever reason it is to give thanks to God and to adore the Lord Jesus in the Tabernacle? It is through the birth of Christ, the Savior, that we are all called to be, as Saint Paul described in today’s 2nd reading saying, “coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” As the members of the same body, the Church, have we often come together as the Church to be united with Christ, the Head of the Church, in the Eucharist?

SMJ is not Shaking My Junk, but rather, SMJ is Star, Magi, and Jesus. These three figures really help us to shake our junk, the junk that is covered with darkness, ignorance, envy, jealousy, cheating, lying, coveting other’s wives in mind, heart, and even in action. Do you identify yourself as a star to give light to others to come to Jesus? Or the Magi to search for Christ with whatever it takes? Or Christ who had total faith in God Father in taking on our human flesh lying helpless in the crypt of the manger? Magi offered gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Savior, what can you and I offer to Him?

 

Weekend Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Nguyen


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