Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare is called EDSA for Epifanio delos Santos Avenue. Its namesake is a famous scholar from the province of Rizal whose name means “manifestation” or “appearance” from the Greek epiphanes. EDSA today may be considered as the epiphany of everything that is wrong in the country, from government inefficiency to people lacking in discipline and patriotism. Mention the word EDSA and you feel sad and gloomy all of a sudden. On the other hand, the Epiphany we celebrate today brings joy and jubilation because it is the manifestation of the universal kingdom of Jesus Christ to the pagans symbolized by the magi from the East. After the octave of Christmas, it is celebrated within this joyous season to remind us that while deep within each one of us is a natural search or inclination for God, it is actually God who looks for us and eventually finds us. Though it is God who appears to us or “epiphanies” to us, we have to be like the magi who must look and find Him as well as lead others to Him too!
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (Mt. 2:1-2)
It takes a wise person to search for Jesus – and a wiser person to lead others to Him! How sad that so many people today feel so lost and could not find the right directions to Jesus because as we have reflected last Christmas, there are so many of us who pretend to be the Christ. When somebody comes to us, seeking comfort or counsel or simply company, do they find the newborn King in us? When people come to our homes, do they experience Jesus in our family? When people come to pray and celebrate the sacraments in our parish or chapel, do they find Christ present there among the people and the place itself? How sad that so many churches are desecrated in the name of finding Christ among the people that we have allowed everything and everyone to disregard their sanctity with so much pomp and pageantry that tend to manifest more the pride and ego, or insecurities of those in charge of these sacred places. People continue to search for that Bethlehem where they could find rest and comfort, solace and consolation in the newborn king Jesus Christ. The Epiphany of the Lord reminds us that Christ came to the world to be the fulfillment of everyone and He had become human like us in everything except sin so we can find Him easily. There are many symbolisms that may be gleaned from these wise men representing us today.
They are sometimes called as kings as attested from our first reading, “Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you… Nations shall walk by your light; kings by your shining radiance. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord” (Is.60:1, 4, 6). From this part of Isaiah’s prophecy we also got that picture of the three wise men travelling as kings from the farthest parts of the world of that time riding on camels to show that even the most powerful men of the world recognize Jesus as the King of Kings. In our responsorial psalm today, we heard ancient places that extend from the extreme west like Tarshish which is in Tartessos, Spain up to the isles off the coast of Africa and the Middle East which is part of Asia to represent rulers of the world who would come to worship Christ. Notice how these places mentioned in Isaiah and Psalms refer to the three continents known during that time, namely, Africa, Asia, and Europe symbolizing the whole world coming to Christ. Some Church Fathers even preached that the three kings symbolize the three stages of our life where Christ leads and guides us: youth, maturity and old age. In whatever state or stage of life we are, true wisdom and peace can only be found in Christ Jesus regardless of our differences.
But above all of these we find that with the wise men coming from the East where the sun rises is that they show us the Epiphany as a new beginning in our lives. The magi represent our inner journey in life to find and follow Jesus Christ. Last year, I have dwelt a lot in that realization that life is more of a directional than a destination. What matters most in life is that we keep on following Jesus Christ our light, our star. That is direction, where He is leading us. It never stops. We just keep on following Him until we reach our final destination in heaven for we are all “coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6). This direction we have to follow in life never stops for the discovery of God is not the end but the beginning of a journey. And in this journey in Jesus Christ, we do not simply go as followers but are expected to eventually become believers too. Matthew noted at the end of the gospel today how the magi“departed for their country by another way” (Mt. 2: 12), meaning they have become believers eventually of Christ. Their lives have changed and must have never been the same as before after finding Jesus because they have believed. That is their big advantage and difference with Herod and the experts of Jerusalem who knew everything about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem but refused to believe Him. This is the danger with us today: many Christians today are mere followers but not wise enough to be believers of Christ.
Like those young people aspiring to follow their stars at GMA-7’s talent search program “StarStruck”, we also need to dream, believe,and survive. We all dream to be fulfilled in life. And every lofty dream is always from above, from God as Matthew told us this Christmas the dreams of Joseph and now the dream of the magi. It is said that those who dream with their eyes wide open are the real dreamers, the trailblazers who change the world. That is because they did not only believe in their dreams and with themselves but most of all, they believed in God. On this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, He is inviting us to dream and believe so that we may live fully in Him. Every day is a new beginning to search and follow and believe Jesus Christ our light. Today we are given with over 350 days to begin anew in Jesus. Be wise. Search Him. Follow Him. Believe Him. Happy Epiphany of the Lord! AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan
*Photos from Google.