Feast of the Epiphany
The front piece on the altar of the tomb of St. Dominic in Bologna, Italy is of the Epiphany. At first this can strike one as strange, a scene from the Christmas story on the tomb of a dead man. But it is there to recall the reason St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers. Then Dominican Order’s mission is to preach Jesus as the Truth coming into the world and He is for all peoples.
The feast we celebrate on January 6th reminds us that when Our Blessed Lord was born, the Good News of His Birth was not just for the few who actually visited the stable; it was not just for those in Bethlehem or only for the Jews but Christ is for all peoples. These three kings from a foreign country represent all of us coming to find Jesus. No one is excluded from coming to Christ and receiving his love. As Pope Benedict XVI says in his recent book when speaking of the Magi: “In this sense, these figures are forerunners, preparers of the way, seekers after truth, such as we find in every age”.
Life throws lots of questions at us. Particularly at times of hardship and sorrow we can feel very insecure about life, death, sickness, failure, the future or the past. These questions can crush us or they can be doors opening us to a new way of living and indeed a renewed happiness.
Our Christian faith teaches us that our desire for love and our pursuit for meaning can only be fulfilled in Christ. To ask questions is a good thing. Because these three wise men asked questions, looked for answers and were prepared to travel long distances they found Jesus.
When we get hurt or when things don’t turn out the way we expect we can get into a way of always complaining and blaming God or others. We can look for quick fixes with drugs or drink or eating or wherever we turn to when we feel unhappy and failures. We can turn-in on ourselves and on our problems.
This is not what the Magi did. They faced their problems and went looking for answers. When they began their journey they did not know where it would lead them. It led them to Jesus and they fell down and adored him, here was the Truth they were searching for, here is the Truth we are all searching for; the child of Bethlehem.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.