Sunday, January 6, 2013

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord ABC – Homily by Fr. Michael Udoekpo

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord ABC – Homily by Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 60: 1-6; Ps 72:1-2,7-8,10-11,12-13; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6 and Matt 2:1-12

Epiphany: Let Every Nation adore the Lord !

On this Solemn day of Epiphany we come together as the psalmist would put it “to adore the Lord” who has freely and willingly manifested himself to us in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Prophet Isaiah had long prophesied about this manifestation, of peace, light and liberation, this birth of Christ, in Isaiah 7:14.  Today he sings his praises in the first reading (Isa 60:1-6), to those who lived to see this day long foretold.

Christ's Birth is not only an entrance of Light into the world of darkness, but an entrance of Light and Divine Strength into our human brokenness, selfishness, self- centeredness, and sufferings. It is a manifestation, a revelation of the Glory of God. It is an epiphany of God's love, his Mercy, his Tender Care and Kindness to all nations, all continents, Jews and Gentiles, to the poor, the rich, the queens and the kings.

Epiphany is manifestation of God to our children, to mummy and daddy, to husbands and wives, seminarians and priests, to friends, partners, politicians, poets, colleagues and peers. It is a feast when Jesus is made known to the whole world, to every continent as the Psalmist would confirm “Lord, every nation on earth shall adore you” (Ps 72). Epiphany is a gathering of every nation to adore Christ. This is true even when you look at our faces, our colors, and our eyes, particularly our last names. I was recently in Africa and Europe the joy was the same at Christmas, every nation adoring the Lord- the power of faith- only Christ can gather us together at birth and at death. What a miracle of faith.

At his birth, manifestation many reacted: the Shepherd, the angels, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna. In today’s Gospel (Matt 1:1-12) the magi also reacted. Guided by the star, they came all the way from the East, from abroad outside Bethlehem/Judea, to adore Christ, to worship Christ= (proskunh/)= to submit themselves to Christ. They brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Every nation adores the Lord, including those who studied the stars.
God can speak to us; He can manifest Himself to us through our various professions and occupations. All that he requires of us is disposition, willingness, openness and readiness. You don’t need to be a priest or nun to have faith. You can be an attorney, a nurse, a doctor, a secretary, a receptionist, a broker, a plumber, a factory worker, a church volunteer, a student, employed or unemployed, a bank teller, a football coach, a husband, housewife, a Jew or Gentile with deep faith. Salvation is Universal (Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6).

I also want to believe that the journeys of magi were not rosy-rosy. Mostly likely there were some difficulties on the way. They must have left their homes, children and family members searching for Christ in a territory where Herod was appointed the king of the Jews by the Roman imperialism. I am sure being learned scientists they were not naive, they knew, humanly it would be risky facing Herod, the reigning earthly king, when at the same time searching to adore the heavenly King, the true “King of the Jews,” and “the King of kings.”

 These things are possible when we walk with deep faith, when we listen to the impulses of the Holy Spirit, when we follow the light of Christ not our own will, as the magi did and as prophesied long ago by the Prophet Isaiah “nations shall walk by your light.”

Nations shall submit (proskunh/)= themselves to Jesus. Nations of professionals including the magi from sheba. The precious gifts the brought Christ from the East- gold, frankincense and myrrh are significant. 

Gold- recalls he royalty of Christ which lies in his mission of justice, peace, love, forgiveness and holiness of life- Not bullying, revenge and terrorism. In Frankincense we recall the perfume and the incense we use during worship- which is a symbol of hope and faith that we all place in Jesus our Messiah.

 Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthian 2:15 St. by inviting us to give of that noble “aroma of Christ” among ourselves: peace, love, forgiveness, universalism, inclusiveness, friendship and acts of charity.  In Myrrh we recall the sufferings, the pains and passion of Christ (Mark 15:20-23; Matt 27:33-44). And it was with Myrrh in John 19:39 that Nichodemus anointed Christ’s body for burial.

Epiphany is a celebration of our faith from the strength of our jobs, vocations and occupations. Many with various occupations gathered here have that faith. Many with various professions are still searching for that faith. Like in the case of the Magi sometimes the journey may be long and rough.  When we finally find that faith we are call to share it with others, with our friends and relatives; That Faith, that aroma of Christ, that golden peace, that inclusiveness, that joy, that charity, that forgiveness, those gifts!

Let me end by sharing one of my Christmas gifts with you. It is  a  prayer sent to me by one of the SSND nuns.  The prayer reads,

Dear God,
I ask you to bless me and to watch over me this day
May my feet walk, where my presence will be a [glimpse) manifestation of you
May my hands [touch] manifest for someone in pains
May my eyes always see the good in everyone they meet
May my ears listen only to praise, and not to words that tear down
May my mouth always {speak) manifest the truth
May my mind not judge others because they are different
May I just be myself and a {reflection) manifestation of you!