Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
|Gentile da Fabriano: "Adoration of the Magi"|
As the Wise Men fell down and worshipped him in the manger, so let us fall down and worship him, enthroned omnipotent in heaven. As they opened their treasures and presented unto him mystic and symbolic gifts, so let us strive to open our hearts to him, and offer him from thence some worthy offering.
Again we see the common thread of having to leave what is comfortable and journey to the unknown. We saw this when Mary, after having just conceived the Christ Child, journeyed to her cousin Elizabeth's house for the birth of John the Baptist. We saw the Holy Family journey from Nazareth to the town of Bethlehem where our Savior was born. We see the wise men journey from their homes in the East across many lands to worship the Christ Child.
Below is part of the homily delivered by Pope Benedict XVI on January 6, 2006 regarding the meaning of this great Feast day:
The Magi worshipped a simple Child in the arms of his Mother Mary, because in him they recognized the source of the twofold light that had guided them: the light of the star and the light of the Scriptures. In him they recognized the King of the Jews, the glory of Israel, but also the King of all the peoples.
The mystery of the Church and her missionary dimension are also revealed in the liturgical context of the Epiphany. She is called to make Christ's light shine in the world, reflecting it in herself as the moon reflects the light of the sun.
The ancient prophecies concerning the holy city of Jerusalem, such as the marvellous one in Isaiah that we have just heard: "Rise up in splendour! Your light has come.... Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance" (Is 60: 1-3), have found fulfilment in the Church.
This is what disciples of Christ must do: trained by him to live in the way of the Beatitudes, they must attract all people to God through a witness of love: "In the same way, your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your deeds and give praise to your heavenly Father" (Mt 5: 16). By listening to Jesus' words, we members of the Church cannot but become aware of the total inadequacy of our human condition, marked by sin.
The Church is holy, but made up of men and women with their limitations and errors. It is Christ, Christ alone, who in giving us the Holy Spirit is able to transform our misery and constantly renew us. He is the light of the peoples, the lumen gentium, who has chosen to illumine the world through his Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 1).
"How can this come about?", we also ask ourselves with the words that the Virgin addresses to the Archangel Gabriel. And she herself, the Mother of Christ and of the Church, gives us the answer: with her example of total availability to God's will - "fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" (Lk 1: 38) - she teaches us to be a "manifestation" of the Lord, opening our hearts to the power of grace and faithfully abiding by the words of her Son, light of the world and the ultimate end of history.
So be it!