Sunday, January 07, 2007

Angelus Message On Epiphany


The Solemnity of the Epiphany today celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Magi, an event to which St. matthew gives great importance (cfr Mt 2,1-12).

He narrates in his Gospel that some "Magi" - probably Persian religious leaders - arrived in Jerusalem guided by a 'star,' a heavenly phenomenon interpreted by them as the sign of the birth of a new King of the Jews. But nobody in the city knew anything.

Indeed, the king in charge, Herod, was very disturbed by the news and thought up the 'massacre of the innnocents' to eliminate the rival who was newly born. But the Magi trusted the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the prophesy of Micah according to which the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, situated 10 kms. south of Jerusalem (cfr Mic 5,1).

Proceeding in that direction, the Magi saw the 'star' again and, filled with joy, they followed it until it 'stopped' over a shed. They entered and found the Baby with Mary - they prostrated themselves in front of Him, and in tribute, they offered Him gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Why is this event so important? Because with it begins the adherence of pagan peoples to faith in Christ, according to the promise made by God to Abraham, about which the Book of Genesis says: "In you all the communities of the earth will find themselves blessed" (Gen 12,3). If Mary, Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem represent the people of Israel welcoming the Lord, the Magi are the first of the Gentiles called to be part of the Church, the new people of God, based no longer on ethnic, linguistic or cultural homogeneity, but only on common faith in Jesus, Son of God. The Epiphany of Christ, therefore, is at the same time the Epiphany of the Church, which means, a manifestation of its calling and universal mission.

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