Vol: 45, No.9 THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD ( B) January 07 2018  
 
LITURGY AND LIFE
The Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men (Magi) who are looking for the newborn King of the Jews. Traditionally the feast of the Epiphany celebrates the inclusion of the Gentiles in the salvific plan of God for the pagan kings represent the vast humanity that remains alien to God.
The magi are thought to be priests, astronomers, diviners and wise men who also study the world’s religious texts. Matthew understands the magi as learned men (probably from Babylon) who understand the stars. They seek the King because they have seen his star at its rising. The idea that the births and the deaths of great figures are accompanied by astral phenomena was widely accepted in antiquity.
The character of Herod at whose palace the Wise Men arrive represents everything that is diametrically opposed to that of the Wise Men. News of the birth of the promised King would certainly trouble Herod who is driven by innate distrust and constant fear of a rival claimant to the throne. We can then understand why the king deals shrewdly with the Wise Men and tries to extract information about the child once they have found him. In this context the massacre of the innocent children becomes credible. Herod wants to eliminate all claimants to his throne. This is the reason why Herod secretly inquires of the magi the actual time of the appearance of the star in order to ascertain the age of the child.
The feast of the Epiphany allows us to reflect on the universality of salvation in Christ. The Old Testament lays the foundation for what the New Testament reveals definitively in Jesus Christ: God wills the salvation of all human beings. In the Old Testament there are clear indications pointing to a universal salvific will, especially in the Book of Genesis. Noah’s covenant includes the whole of humankind (Gen 9:8-17); Abraham’s
 
covenant promises blessing for all peoples (Gen 18:18); the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah proclaimed that salvation is for all.
The First Reading from Isaiah is a splendid example of the salvific will of God. Isaiah visualizes a new beginning after the exile. For he says, “nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” He further says that they will come with gifts such as gold and frankincense. The Wise Men when they come seeking the child Jesus also bring with them these gifts.
In the New Testament, the idea of a universal salvific will is predominant. It is true that though Jesus is convinced that he is “sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, still in his powerful deeds and parables he shows that God, the Father of all human beings, is concerned about the salvation of all. In the post-resurrection apostolic preaching, Jesus is proclaimed as the Christ, who mediates the salvific plan of God by his death and resurrection for the salvation of all human beings. Writing to the Ephesians (Second Reading) Paul says that the mystery not made known to the sons of men in other generations but now revealed through Jesus is this: Gentiles are fellow-heirs and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.
The renewed sight of the star and its identification of the location of the child cause the Wise Men to be overcome with joy. The coming of the Wise Men is the beginning of the fulfilment of the prophecies from the time of the exile that nations will come to the light and kings to the brightness of the rising of faithful Israel, bringing gifts and eager to recognize the God of Israel because God is with them. The Wise Men after having worshipped the child Jesus offer him gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts (Mt  2:11). Jesus is thus identified as representing true Israel, while the magi represent the other nations.
—Amoris Laetitia
January 2018 Readings (1st Week in Ordinary Time) Psalter Week 1
08 Mon (W) BAPTISM OF THE LORD, Feast Isa 55:1-11/ Isa 12:2-6/ Mk 1:7-11
09 Tue (G) 1 Sam 1:9-20/ 1 Sam 2:1, 4-8/ Mk 1:21-28
10 Wed (G) 1 Sam 3:1-10, 19-20/ Ps 40:2, 5, 7-10/ Mk 1:29-39
11 Thu (G) 1 Sam 4:1-11/ Ps 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25/ Mk 1:40-45
12 Fri (G) 1 Sam 8:4-7, 10-22/ Ps 89:16-19/ Mk 2:1-12
13 Sat (G) St Hilary, 1 Sam 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1/ Ps 21:2-7/ Mk 2:13-17
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