Gospel Reflection for the Feast of the Epiphany – January 6th 2013
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on our parish website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel’.
Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.
The journey of the wise men or magi is one of the favourite stories of the gospel. It’s a story of the journey of life, of guidance on the way, of delight in finding faith and God, of the intrigue of a greedy and jealous king, and of the good beating the bad. We like the end of the story when the wise men outwitted Herod.
Star, at the Beginning and End
The star started them on the journey and then guided them to the end. Like our faith.The star which shone at our baptism is the promise of God to guide us through life. Faith grows through the ordinary events of life. What can seem ordinary happenings can be extraordinary grace – the birth of a child in your family, the first time you fall in love, the people you meet who make a big difference in your life, success in a job, becoming a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, anything creative in your life is a gift of grace from God.
The presence of your star may strike you when on a retreat and you learned to pray, a time you felt in vocation or any other way you really helped some people, or really listening and talking with someone and you realise you’re not the only one in life with problems.
People are Stars of God
At bad times when the star seemed dim but people helped – bereavement, crime in the family, addiction to drugs or drink, involved in suicide or abuse, illness – all the small and big awful things that darken life and dim the star. But still can you ask then – what was and what is your star? The light of faith is bright in the good and bad times of life. The word of God and the help of another is the star lighting your journey.
Each of us has our own personal star guiding us – the star of prayer, love, friendship, support…the star has a different name at different times. Be grateful for your star – and be grateful that you have been a star for others. In the book of God, each of us is a star.
Guide us, O God, and protect us kindly now, and at the hour of death. Amen.
Donal Neary SJ