Beloved, Rise & Shine!
Readings: 1st: Is 60:1-6; Ps: 71; 2nd: Eph 3:2-3.5-6; Gos: Mt 2:1-12
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is Epiphany of the Lord which informs the choice of the theme of our reflection, Beloved, Rise, and Shine! There is no better season to ask one to arise and shine than during this glorious season of the birth of the Messiah and the New Year. This is the best time to call to mind the story of the rusty shield which said to the Sun: “Dazzle me!” While the Sun responded: “Polish yourself, and I will dazzle you!” Therefore, this season we must rise and shine because: “In His (Christ’s) light we see the light” (Ps 36, 9).
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The term Epiphany is of Greek origin, epiphaninen. It is a verb with the following synonyms or meanings: “to reveal,” “to manifest,” or “to make known.” It celebrates the many ways through which Jesus has revealed himself to us. These include the events that bring to light his mission and divinity, the visitation of the Magi (Mt 2, 10-12), the baptism of Jesus (Mk 1, 9-11; and the miracle at Cana (Jn 2, 1-11). Objectively speaking, only good things are revealed, while the bad ones are hidden to avoid shame. Even when the bad ones are revealed, it is done to expose evil. They are not revealed with pride or joy.
Today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah enjoins us to: “Arise and Shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising on you.” This glory of the Lord is Christ himself, who has come to dwell amongst us. He is the source of all lights in the world. He is like the Sun, the source of all-natural and earthly lights. We are called to be like the moon, lenses, and mirrors that pick up the light and reflect it without diminishing its intensity or brightness. For this to be possible, we must first position ourselves on the same axis with Christ, the source of our light and life.
In the second reading, Paul makes a crucial salvific point. This is the fact that this light that Christ shines upon us does not segregate or discriminate. He writes: “It means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.” Paul affirms the scripture, which says that God allows his light/rain to fall on both the good and the bad. He allows the good to make him better and the bad to transform him into good.
Today’s gospel reminds us that Christ revealed himself to us through his stars. So, we are called like the three wise men in our gospel today to follow and adore him because: “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord!”(Ps 71, 3). However, our worship must be sincere, like the Magi’s, as opposed to the false proposal of king Herod. It must be a genuine worship devoid of deceit. In light of this, we must offer ourselves entirely to Him. If we humbly adore and pay our newborn king-fitting and sincere homage, our light and star will shine equally, and others will see it and search for us to pay us homage.
Today, God reveals himself to us because he is good and loving. The light that shines forth upon us today is the light of life. Today the Lord Jesus Christ further extends and expands the horizon of his love to us by not being selfish. Instead, he allows his light to shine on us to illumine our lives’ darkness. The lesson today is that as Christ illumines our lives this New Year with his light and divine presence, we, too, must pass on the light. Another is that if we must get to our heavenly destination, we must continue to follow the star and light that Christ shows us.
Finally, we must not allow ourselves to be deceived or distracted. Trusting that God will not mislead or misguide us, we must continue to look for his star and light along our journey to eternity. Whenever we are confused or come to the crossroads of life, we must seek divine guidance and counsel. Let implore the Lord: Father, guide us with your light. Help us to recognize Christ in the Eucharist and welcome him with love, for he is Lord forever and ever. Amen!
Peace be with you!