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Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord :: op-stjoseph.org

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord :: op-stjoseph.org

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Published by: SaintJoseph on Jan 14, 2009
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05/10/2014

 
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Cycle B: January 4, 2009Scripture ReadingsFirst:
Isaiah 60: 1-6.
Second:
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6.
Gospel:
Matthew 2:1-12.Prepared by: Fr. Stephen Dominic Hayes, OP1.
Subject Matter 
The celebration of the Epiphany focuses on the "manifestation" of the Lord (Gk.:
Epiphania
)-the showing forth to the world of the Savior born for us at Christmas. This day has beenfrequently celebrated in the Christian world with especial joy and solemnity as the coming of the revelation of God and his life-giving Word, long given from the time of the patriarchs toIsrael and to Israel alone, now come in the final age, to all the nations of the world who arerepresented in a figurative way by the Magi who come bearing gifts to the child of Bethlehem,who is Son of David, the King of the Jews and God Almighty come to dwell among men.
The Magi come from the opposite end of the world in a biblically extraordinary way. Their title, (Greek:“
magoi 
”) associates them with the pagan priesthoods ancient serving the falseworship “the whole host of heaven” instead of the one true God; traditional servants of thekings of Babylon as astrologers, magicians and seers, they now come from the lands out of which God summoned Abraham, seeking in ignorance what he found in obedience. After consulting the Scriptures entrusted to Israel, they finally find the Messiah in the arms andhousehold of Mary. Insofar as they represent all those seekers who begin in spiritualdarkness seeking Christ, and are led by degrees to him by the Providence of God, the Magiare a sign of hope for all of us who seek to know God in spirit and in truth. As they kneelbefore the child Jesus, we are invited to discover Christ with a like humility, and in the sameplace: in the royal household of God where Jesus and Mary dwell, in the body which is thenew union of Jew and Gentile, Christ’s holy Catholic Church.
Christ is light. As the Magi followed the star to find a true light of the world in the arms oMary, so does the Catholic Church gather in the nations of the world to whom the revelationof God was not given. Epiphany is therefore celebrated in many nations as the revelation of Christ to the whole world. As the Magi come from the opposite spiritual end of the world atthe beginning of Christ's life, so are we called to ceaselessly seek after Christ, in imitation of them. These truly wise men seek out God, and then “return to their own country” - thekingdom of heaven - by "another way" - by following him who is the 'light of the world' and
 
'the way and the truth and the life.'
The notion of "manifestation" or public revelation of Christ includes, traditionally, not only inthe visit of the Magi, but the revelation of Christ's identity and that of the Trinity at theBaptism of the in the Jordan, and the power of God at work in Jesus manifested in themiracle at Cana.2.
Exegetical Notes
Isaiah 60: 1-6.:
This section of Deutero-Isaiah contains a lyrical description of the glories of the new Jerusalem, which is coming. What is seen coming from afar off in Chapter 54 is nowseen being accomplished in Chapter 60. The specific reading for Epiphany combines theimages of light shining in darkness, the approach of the Gentiles in prayer and holiness, andthe gifts, which they bring, associated as tribute in the ancient world; the same combination isfound in Matthew's weaving of the narrative of the Magi. The Gentiles who are mentionedparticipate in different ways: Midian, Ephah, and Sheba are descendents of Abraham andrenowned for wisdom as well as riches; they now share a patrimony with Jerusalem. Thereference to Sheba and Midian here is connected by Matthew to Psalm 72 (the ResponsorialPsalm for Epiphany and provides a textual basis for associating the Magi with the royalvisitors prophesied to come from east (Arabia and Sheba) and west (Tarshish end the isles)who come to pay homage to the Messianic King.
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6:
This brief selection of verses from Ephesians emphasizes thefundamental lesson of the Epiphany: Christ revealed to the Gentiles, who are now “coheirs,companions, and co-partners” with the gentiles in God’s plan of salvation. The Greek termsare even more emphatic in its rhetorical force: “sygklêronoma, sysôma, symmetocha”.
Matthew 2:1-12:
The Magi (Gk: magoi) are figures about whom much scholarly ink hasbeen spilled in recent times. In the tradition, the various prophecies in Isaiah, andin the bookof Psalms concerning the royal Messiah who opens up the worship of God to participation byGentiles has turned the Magi into the Three Kings of the Christmas carol. In the book of Daniel, Magi appear as advisers and seers, astrologers and magicians to the king of Babylon, and later, to the kings of Persia. They are associated with Chaldea, the southernpart of Mesopotamia, which is the historical location of not only Babylon, but of the SumerianEmpire and the city of Ur, out of which God originally called Abraham and his family. Thiswas in ancient times a network of small city states, the kings of which were also priests, for whom astrological and heavenly phenomena were an object of study; so there is a historicaland cultural connection between the roles of priests and kings in the areas of study for whichthe Magi are historically remembered. In Matthew's Gospel, they represent the heights of Gentile knowledge, as well as Gentile idolatry. They come from the land that hastraditionally represented pride, false worship, and enmity to God from the time the building of the Tower of Babel to the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jewish people toBabylon. It is from this opposite spiritual pole of the earth that the Magi come to Jerusalem,seeking a king of the Jews, who is to be light and truth for them as well.
Scholars in the past
 
have suggested all kinds of 
 
explanations of 
 
the identity of the
 
star of Bethlehem: a comet, a particular existing star, or even a nova: the present fashionable ideaseems to be an astronomical but an astrological event; this would explain why such an eventwould go unnoticed except by practitioners of the occult, such as the Magi. The current hotidea is that the “star” was the double lunar occultation of Jupiter in the House of Aries ( theastrological sign associated anciently with the Jews) which occurred in 6 B.C on March 20
 
and April 17. This date would also seem to fit with the death of Herod the Great, commonlycalculated to have occurred in 4 B.C. Scripturally, the appearance of the star is a fulfillmentof the Gentile prophet Balaam’s announcement of the rising the star from Jacob (Numbers24:17).
The Magi, scrutinizing the skies for divine truth, a lead in spite of the spiritual blindness bythe grace of God to Jerusalem, where, by consulting the Scriptures and Revelationcommitted to Israel, they are able to locate the child they seek. They thus proceed fromnearly natural knowledge to supernatural knowledge, and finally to the face-to-faceencounter with the Messiah whose kingship accept by their obeisance as they enter thehouse of Mary and her Child. In a similar way, the Gentiles, St. Paul points out in the firstchapter of Romans, were led formally by their consciences, but aided by the revelation givento Israel, they have discovered him in the household of God, which is the Catholic Church.3.
References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 486 :
The Father's only Son, conceived as a man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is"Christ," that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of the history of hisexistence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to theshepherds, to the Magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of JesusChrist will make manifest. "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit andwith power."
CCC 528 :
... The great feast of the fifth and he celebrates Federation Jesus by the wisemen (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in Jordan and the wedding feast at Canain Galilee. In the Magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel seesthe first fruits of the nations, who welcomed the good news of salvation through theIncarnation. The Magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jewsshows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will beking of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him asGod and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them themessianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. ...
CCC 724:
In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit,she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and to the firstrepresentatives of the Gentiles, that she makes him known.
CCC 2105
: The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually andsocially. .. Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus the Church shows for thekingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.4.
Patristic Commentary
St. John Chrysostom,
(
The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 7.):
The star appeared in theheavens, calling the wise men from on high. They may long pilgrimage to worship the onewho lends one clothes in the manger. The prophets of old had proclaimed his coming.These and all the other events were more than human.

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