THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD SUNDAY—January 6, 2008
Introduction: During these past several weeks of Advent we have been conscious of Christ’s light penetrating our darkened world. We have celebrated God’s grace manifested through his Son, Jesus, and gloried in this heavenly visitation. In the book On Being Human, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen explains, “But Christmas is not a man making himself a god, but God becoming a man, without ever ceasing to be God. In the first instance, there is exaltation or self-inflation by which man makes himself what he is not. In the second instance, there is humiliation, for God takes on the form and habit of man.” What a glorious truth!
Penitential rite: Let us recognize our sins and ask God for pardon and forgiveness
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Isaiah 60, 1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3, 2-3.5-6; Matthew 2, 1-12
Solemnity of the Epiphany – means Revelation
The greatest gift to the King of Kings is the gift of a life of faithful love and service.
There’s a story called “The Other Wise Man’’ by Henry van Dyke.
It’s about a fourth person who is supposed to accompany the other three wise men on their journey to search for the newborn King. The name of the person is Artaban. As Artaban prepares for the journey, he takes with him a bag of precious stones to give to the baby King. On his way to join the other three wise men, Artaban stops to help a poor person. The delay is just enough to make him miss his rendezvous with the others.
Artaban never does catch up with them. He constantly runs into people who need help. And he always stops to help them. Eventually, Artaban gives away all his precious stones. As the story ends, Artaban is old and poor. He never realized his dream to meet the King of Kings and place at his feet his gift of precious stones.
The story of “The Other Wise Man’’ could end here. And if it did, it would be a sad story. It would be the story of a man who never realized his one big dream. But the story doesn’t end here.
One day Artaban is in Jerusalem. The city is buzzing with excitement. Authorities are about to execute a criminal. When Artaban sees the criminal, his heart skips a beat. Something tells him this is the King of Kings for whom he has been searching all his life. Artaban is heartbroken at what he sees. He is even more heartbroken when he sees he can do nothing to help the King. Then something remarkable happens. Artaban hears the King’s voice say to him:
“Don’t be brokenhearted, Artaban.
You’ve been helping me all your life.
When I was hungry, you gave me food.
When I was thirsty, you gave me drink.
When I was naked, you clothed me.
When I was a stranger, you took me in.’’
The story of Artaban is the story of many people in our world. Like Artaban, they begin life with the dream of doing something great. But as time passes, circumstances beyond their control interfere with their dream. Eventually it disappears.
The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us that we all have a gift we can give to the King of Kings. And the story of “The Other Wise Man’’ reminds us that our gift is far more precious than those of the other three wise men. Our gift is not a one-time gift of gold, frankincense, or myrrh. It’s a full-time gift of love and service. Some people may consider us foolish for giving this gift. But that’s only because they don’t know the end of the story. The story will end with Jesus saying to us what he said to Artaban:
“Come, you that are blessed by my Father!
Come and possess the kingdom
which has been prepared for you
ever since the creation of the world.
“I was hungry and you fed me,
thirsty and you gave me a drink;
I was a stranger
and you received me in your homes . . .
“I tell you, whenever you did this
for one of the least . . . of mine,
you did it for me!” (Matthew 25:34–35, 40)