Sem. Aymeric Djengue
The Epiphany is the Feast of Light par excellence. This word comes from the Greek epi (over), and phainein (shine). So epiphany means that a light shines over something, and more precisely, that the Light of God shines forth on us. God manifests himself, God appears to us. Thus the common translation of epiphany: manifestation or appearance
Prior to Christianity, this feast belonged to the pagan celebrations of the light, as did Christmas. Indeed, the date of Christmas was originally on the night of the winter solstice. This night, the longest of the year, was then followed by the lengthening of days, and by extension, the rebirth of the Light. Twelve days after this feast, as daylight extends in a noticeable way, the feast of the manifestation of the Light was celebrated: the Epiphany.
About this Light, the gospel for this solemnity points to two stars.
The first one is explicitly mentioned. It is the star that the Magi saw, and which shown upon the child Jesus. These Magi were wise men, searching for the truth. We can say that they were a kind of scientist. And this star is a sign, showing them that Jesus is the one that they are looking for. For us, this star corresponds to all the signs showing us the love of God in our concrete life. For example, this star can be the love of our relatives, of our friends; or simply rediscovering the gift of life that God gave us. And of course, it is also in the sacraments.
All these signs leads us to the second star, which is more implicit, but also much brighter. It is Jesus himself, who is identified in the second letter of St Peter as “the morning star” which will rise in our hearts (2 Peter 1:19). As the first star invited the Magi to enter the house in order to discover Jesus, we also are invited to enter into our hearts in order to meet him. It means that we have to take care of our interior life. This could include many things, for example, to value time for daily prayer, to meditate on the Word of God, to be present in relations with others, to be aware of the meaning of the sacraments, etc.
This last point, the awareness of the meaning of the sacraments, is central for us, and is enlightened in the gospel of this solemnity. Indeed, fundamentally, the sacraments are a participation in the life of God. They imply a radical decentering (to “lose our lives”), in order to share in the new life that God gives us. And we find exactly this movement in the attitude of the Magi, who, when they met with Jesus, “prostrated themselves and did him homage.” This posture of adoration is indeed something which we are invited to imitate: to leave all our worries, preoccupations or self-seeking, and to turn our eyes with love to Jesus, God made human.
Doing so, we will be filled with an unspeakable joy, and this joy will move us into action. As it is at the beginning of a beautiful bright and sunny day, we feel joy, enthusiasm, and are full of promising projects. That is exactly what the Magi felt. They were overjoyed when they saw the new star. But when they met with Jesus, they were in silent awe. We can guess that it is because of the shortfall of our human words to describe such a joy.
As we strive to express our joy, the Magi can also be a source of inspiration for us. As they offered to Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh, so we can also offer him our gifts. And these are our abilities, our habits, our talents. We are to give what we have received.
On this solemnity we are celebrating the great Light of our life, Jesus himself. Let us be attentive to all the signs of the love of God in our lives. Thus we will be able to meet Jesus, by taking care of our interior life, and especially by living in a spirit of adoration. Then the joy of God, which is beyond words, will dwell in us, and will move us to an exciting life of service.