The Epiphany of Our Lord, Jan. 8

On Sunday, Jan. 8, we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord, "the mystery of the manifestation of Our Lord, Jesus Christ to all peoples" as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called it, when the Magi visited the Christ Child.

Saint Stanislaus Papczynski, the founder of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, wrote a reflection for the Feast of the Epiphany to his fellow religious:

"We have seen his star in the East, and have come to adore him" Mt 2:2

Consider that God did not send an angel to summon the Magi for the sake of paying honor to Christ, but showed them a new and unusual star. Understand, however, that this was done because, in His supreme wisdom, He knew that they would be summoned more easily by a star, than if He were to send them a different heavenly messenger. For they were star experts, and indeed anyone is drawn more easily by means known to him, than by those unknown.

Hence, God used to manifest His will to you through your Superiors, because he knows and wants you to believe them more easily than angels. Therefore, as the Magi followed the command of the star, so you ought to follow the command of your Superiors, unless you do not want to find Jesus.

Do you find yourself wishing that God would just send an angel to you, or some other heavenly sign, then you would know what He wants you to do? Rather, look to the ordinary signs around you that God places in your path - what your boss at work asks you to do, or your teacher, or your parents or spouse. What does the Church ask of you in her teachings? What does Jesus ask of you in the Scriptures? Sometimes we think the Lord isn't speaking to us, but most often He is, in the most ordinary events of our lives. How does He speak to you? Through a beautiful sunset, a song, a hug of a family member? It's our responsibility to pay attention and be open to His working in our everyday lives. If we don't, we might miss Him and what He is asking of us and wanting to tell us.

"And falling down they adored him" Mt 2:11a

Learn the manner of praying from these kings, who although they were great rulers, yet before the little Child - for the first time acknowledged as God - they dropped to their knees most profoundly. And not without reason; for if mortals approaching mortal kings are accustomed to make most humble, sometimes threefold reverence to them, who would approach the Immortal King without a most humble reverence?

The Apocalypse Prophet attests to having seen twenty-four elders, who with foreheads inclined were falling down on their faces before the Lord (see Rev 4:10).

O, either proud or sluggish are you, who adore or pray without falling on your knees!

"They offered him gifts" Mt 2:11b

What kind of gifts will you offer to the Lord today together with the kings? Indeed, if you want him to look upwards at you with the same benevolence with which he looked upwards at the Magi, you are going to need to give him similar gifts: the gold of praise, the frankincense of prayer, and the myrrh of mortification. But if you have not yet gathered these most precious riches in the fortunate Arabia that is in your Order, work hard to gather them, and be eager to imitate in suffering, in prayer, the suffering Christ - the Man most severely tried by adversities.

In your families, every day in your life, there are opportunities to praise Him, to pray, and to offer sacrifices and penances. Although you might not be in a religious order like St. Stanislaus was writing to, your "Arabia" is your home - the domestic church - where you can work every day to imitate the suffering Christ and offer Him thanks and praise.

"And seeing the star they rejoiced" Mt 2:10

If the Magi were overcome by an unusual joy, when - having gone out of Jerusalem - they caught sight of the star again appearing to them, then in what great joy it was necessary for you to abound, when the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, shone in your heart. And so if the same kings, the Wise Men, looking attentively at that star, followed it to where it directed its course, thus you should watch the light of Jesus abiding in you, and follow it, so that under its command you may attain to Jesus himself, already reigning in heaven.

Observe this light, lest it disappear to you, and thus deviating from the way of perfection, you would not find God, whose seeking was the reason why you made your way from the Babylon of the world to the Jerusalem of the Order.

"The star which they had seen in the East, went before them" Mt 2:9

Behold, He - who by His light had drawn the Magi to himself - shines in you, your soul, that it may also draw you to Him. Therefore, after the severe night of so many sins and failings, "Arise", and "be enlightened, O Jerusalem, because your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you" (Is 60:1).

As for you, do not indulge in such sleeping after the Son, God, has risen in you, but awakened, be swiftly enlightened. Alas, how long will you be fond of the night? How long will you abide in the darkness! The Pharaoh beseeched Moses, that he would remove the three-day darkness from his kingdom [see Ex 10: 21-24). And you, after the heavenly light has entered your heart, will you not put away sleep? "Arise, be enlightened".

"They went back another way to their country" Mt 2:12

Consider that God foresaw the violent death that the most ferocious Herod was preparing for the Magi, visitors of the Infant Christ. And so the Magi, warned by an angel, did not go back to the tyrant, but returned to their kingdoms by a different way. The same God foresaw your ruin, if - allured by your senses - you were to return again to your former imperfections. Wherefore, enclosed in you, He himself warns you not to return by the same way.

Your country is paradise, or Heaven: where one arrives by no other way than by the way of the cross. Having, therefore, abandoned the way of sensuality, proceed by the thorny way of the cross: because by this way one goes to Heaven.



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