Homily for January 5, 2014: Epiphany of the Lord: Deacon Dave McGhee

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
January 5, 2014

Reading 1 is 60:1-6

Responsorial Psalm Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

R/ (cf. 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
reading 2 Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Gospel Mt 2:1-12

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If I were going to visit someone in another city, I might ask someone who knew how to get there, to give me driving directions.  They could give me some general directions and tell me what roads they would recommend that I should take. 

Or I could look it up on a map.  The map would show me exactly how to get there.  As I traveled, I would keep looking at the map so that I would know where I was and where I was going. 

Or I could buy myself a Global Positioning System – a G.P.S. – which would not only show me the correct route, but a little voice would tell me where and when to turn.  If I made a wrong turn the little voice would scold me and tell me how to get back on the right road.

Today’s Gospel reading on this solemn feast of the Epiphany tells us the familiar story of the Magi who followed the light of the bright star in hopes of finding the newborn Messiah, the king of the Jews. 

The Magi, also called the Wise Men were learned men of science who believed that the appearance of this awesomely brilliant star was a sign that a great event had taken place, and they were determined to find out for themselves exactly what it was.  Scientists are curious people!

They had heard rumors that a king had been born and they wanted to find him so that they could pay homage to him, and honor him with gifts.  They first went to Jerusalem and asked around if anybody knew where to find the king.  Some learned Jewish Rabbis knew from prophecies in scripture that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, so they told the Wise Men that they would find the new king there. 

Well, the three Wise Men didn’t have a map, or a G.P.S. but they had something infinitely better:  God gave them a very bright star to guide them to Bethlehem. So the Wise Men followed the star that God gave them and it led them to Jesus.  When they found him, they gave him gifts, and bowed down and worshipped the baby Jesus who was King, God and man.

They gave him GOLD, a gift of great value – a gift suitable to give to a king.  They gave him FRANKINCENSE, which was often used in religious services – a gift suitable to give to God.  And they gave him MYRRH, a rare fragrant oil, often used in the preparation of a body for burial – a gift suitable to give to a man. They had found Jesus, the king they were seeking. 

Wise people today are still seeking for Jesus.  We don’t look for him in Bethlehem, because he is no longer there.  He is in heaven with God, his Father.  We don’t need a map to find him, we don’t need a G.P.S., we don’t even need a star to help us find him.  We can find our way to Jesus by reading God’s Holy Words in Scripture.  The Bible is our MAP and our STAR and our G.P.S. that will lead us to Jesus. 

Our exchange of gifts on Christmas is a tradition that commemorates the Magis’ gifts to Jesus, but somehow the tradition has been corrupted by materialistic commercialism that practically demands that we buy gifts for others.  In our frantic preparation for Christmas we can lose sight of the fact that the first gifts were given to the Christ Child.

Jesus gave his very life for us, dying on the cross to insure our salvation.  Let’s ask ourselves what gifts we give Jesus in return.  All Jesus has ever asked is that we love God and our neighbor.  Can we look honestly at ourselves and say YES, we do love? 

And does that love extend beyond the walls of this church and find its way into our relationships with our families, our jobs and our community?

Jesus doesn’t need any more gold or frankincense or myrrh.  He asks only that we love God and our neighbor.  Are we giving Jesus the gift he REALLY wants?