Prepare for Mass – Epiphany of the Lord – January 4, 2009 (1/4/2009)
Sunday January 4, 2009 is the Epiphany of the Lord. This is the day the church remembers the three Magi visiting the newborn baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The three kings commissioned by Herod – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar – set out on a journey guided by the light of a star, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Herod had told them he wanted them to locate the newborn King of the Jews so that he can go and show him homage. In truth, Herod was jealous and felt threatened of this newborn king and wanted him dead. They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod and so they took another route home.
The light of God’s radiance led the kings to Jesus. The light was in the form of an unusually bright star. The darkness has been replaced by a great light. Is 60:1 – Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. The same light that guided the Magi is the light of Christ. We are blessed to have the light of Christ in the world shining through our darkest of days giving us hope. This hope turns to the same joy the Magi experienced at seeing Jesus.
We are reminded during the offetory at Mass of the Three Kings bearing gifts. The gifts the kings gave are representations of Christ’s sacrifice at Mass. Gold reminds us of the kingship of Jesus. Frankincense is burned and the smoke rises to signify the prayers going up to God. Myrrh was a fragrance used at funerals in ancient times. The gifts of bread, wine, and water brought to the altar at Mass become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ during the consecration.
Each of us has unique gifts of ourselves that we offer in our everyday lives. As the Magi, we too listen to God speaking to us. What wisdom the Magi had to listen to a dream and not return to Herod. Imagine what would have happened if they hadn’t recognized God’s warning in the dream. God is with us, truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist we receive in communion with his body, the Church. The gifts that the Magi brought the first Christmas are symbols of what we bring to Jesus to do him homage and the light reminds us of the gift that is Emmanual, the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
During Mass we participate in this exchange.
Priest: Pray, my brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice
may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
All: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands,
for the praise and glory of his name,
for our good, and the good of all his Church.
This Epiphany, we can all reflect on how the gifts we offer are imperfect. We need to remember to continue offering our gifts to God and cooperate with his grace so he will bless and approve our offerings and make them holy for the good of us and all his Church. Humbly offer it all up including all the gifts that are not so pleasant to give. These gifts we offer are sometimes hidden under pain and anguish.
A gift of Magi
Father Fortuna – School of the Eucharist
Epiphany Lullaby – artist: Belamore