THIS Sunday, January 7, 2018, the Christian world celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. The identity of Jesus, who was born on Christmas Day, was revealed to the nations by the symbolisms of the gifts presented to him by the magi.
The gospel (Matthew 2:1-12) narrates the story of the magi (wise men) from the East following the star that led them to the Baby Jesus at Bethlehem. There they give him homage, offering him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Gold, as a precious metal, symbolizes that Jesus is King. Frankincense, on the other hand, points out to Jesus as Priest, and myrrh, to Jesus as the Savior who would offer his life for the salvation of the human race.
The baby on the manger is therefore no ordinary baby. He is the Son of God – God himself in flesh and blood, both Divine and human. As such, he is destined to be the Supreme Ruler of all – the Lord for whom, by whom and through whom everything was created. More than 30 years after his birth, he would offer, once and for all, the only sacrifice that will atone for the sins of the world – his own body. He would suffer death but rise again on the third day to offer eternal life to anyone who would believe in him. He would ascend back to heaven and sit at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us for our needs and in our prayers.
That the magi came from the East and not from Israel implies that they are not of the Chosen People, but are Gentiles. Early in the life of Jesus, God has therefore revealed himself as the God of all. His dominion is universal and his will is to bring all men and women of whatever race, tribe, language and age to an everlasting fellowship with him.
Four points of reflection come to mind on this Feast of the Epiphany. First, like the magi, do we acknowledge the royalty of Jesus? Second, do we acknowledge the priestly offering of his very self as the only means to atone for our sins and receive eternal life? Fourth, do we pray in his name, believing that no one can come to the Father except through him? And fourth, do we recognize Jesus’ death as calling for our own death to sin, and his resurrection as the assurance for our own resurrection?
May the Holy Spirit lead us to answer yes to these questions, for in doing so, we live up to our own identity as children of God, and if children, then co-heirs with Christ to all of his promises.