Epiphany of The Lord
On Sunday we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord and hear, in the Gospel, the story of the Magi who follow “the star” and find the infant Jesus and bow down and worship him. Like them, we want to fall down and worship our Lord.
The Scripture passages proclaimed on this feast offers us three phrases that can help us understand what it means to be worshipers of the Lord. They are: “raise your eyes” (First Reading), “to set out on a journey” and “to see” (Gospel).
The first, to raise your eyes, comes to us from the prophet Isaiah. To the community of Jerusalem, recently returned from exile and disheartened by great challenges and hardships, the prophet addresses these powerful words of encouragement: “Lift up your eyes and look around” (60:4). He urges them to lay aside their weariness and complaints, to escape the bottleneck of a narrow way of seeing things and the temptation to withdraw into themselves and their own concerns.
To worship the Lord, we first have to lift up our eyes; not allow ourselves to become imprisoned by situations that stifle hope and not make our problems and difficulties the center of our lives. This does not mean denying reality, or deluding ourselves into thinking all is well. On the contrary, it is a matter of viewing problems and anxieties in a new way, knowing that the Lord is aware of our troubles, attentive to our prayers and not indifferent to the tears we shed.
This way of seeing things, which despite everything, continues to trust in the Lord, gives rise to gratitude. When this happens, our hearts become open to worship. When we lift up our eyes to God, life’s problems do not go away; instead we feel assured that the Lord grants us the strength to deal with them.
The second helpful phrase is to set out on a journey. Before they could worship the child in Bethlehem, the Magi had to undertake a lengthy journey. A journey always involves a transformation, a change. After a journey, we are no longer the same.
Like the Magi, we too must allow ourselves to learn from the journey of life, marked by the inevitable inconveniences of travel. We cannot let our weariness; our falls and our failings discourage us. Instead, by humbly acknowledging them, we can make them opportunities to progress towards the Lord Jesus.
And so we come to the third phrase: to see. To lift up our eyes; to set out on a journey; to see. Matthew tells us that, “going into the house they saw the child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him”. But what did they actually see? They saw a poor child and his mother. Yet these wise men were able to look beyond the lowly surroundings and recognize in the Child a royal presence. They were able to “see” beyond appearances. Falling to their knees before the Babe of Bethlehem, they expressed a worship that was above all, interior.
To worship the Lord we need to “see” beyond the veil of things visible, which often prove deceptive. Herod and the leading citizens of Jerusalem represent a worldliness enslaved to appearances and immediate attractions. They see, yet they cannot see. It is that they do not know how to see because they are slaves to appearances and seek what is attractive. They value only the sensational, the things that capture the attention of the masses.
In the Magi however, we see a very different approach— a way of “seeing” that transcends the visible . A way of seeing that can make it possible for us to worship the Lord who is often hidden in everyday situations. A way of seeing things that is not impressed by sound and fury.
With Saint Paul then, let us “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).
May the Lord Jesus make us true worshipers, capable of showing by our lives his loving plan for all humanity.
Read his plans!