The Epiphany - End of a Journey
Sermon given on the feast of the Epiphany at St. Anne's Chapel, Leicester.
And entering the house, they found the child with Mary His mother, and falling down they adored Him. (Mt 2:11)
The Epiphany marks the end of a journey
A Short Journey
On Christmas day the shepherds made a short journey to Bethlehem to see the Messiah.
And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. (Lc 2:15-16).
A few days later (or perhaps weeks), three wise men came from the east in search of the Messiah. Their journey was from a long way away (may be almost 1000 miles) from Persia and India.
When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the East. (Mt 2:1)
The guiding lights
The shepherds had two guides for their journey. They were Jewish, members of the chosen race, and so they had the light of the inspired word of God written in the SACRED SCRIPTURES. There are over 300 prophecies relating to the birth of the Messiah indicating when, where and to whom He would be born. These prophecies, however, were not clear enough (especially for the shepherds) and so they also had the ANGELS to guide them to the stable in Bethlehem:
And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them and the brightness of God shone round about them: and they feared with a great fear. 10 And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: 11 For, this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. (Lc2:9-11)
The three kings also had two guides for their journey. The first was the same SACRED SCRIPTURES. When the Jews were deported to Babylon, they would have made known their scriptures to the wise men of the kingdom. The prophet Daniel, for example, was a man of great influence under the king Nabuchodonosor II ( reign c. 605-562 B.C.). Also, when they reached Jerusalem, it was the prophecy invoked by the chief priests and scribes that brought them to Bethlehem:
And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel. (Mt2:6)
The second guide was a STAR. It is thought that they were zoroastrian priests and believed in astrology and so God made a star to miraculously rise up as per the prophecy of the book of Numbers:
A star shall rise out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel. (Num 24:17)
The necessity of a guide
Both the shepherds and the Kings needed a guide because the Messiah was not to be found in the most likely place. A baby is not usually to be found in the manger of a winter stable. A King is not usually to be found in a in a small town like Bethlehem.
The Spiritual Journey
Now the journeys of the shepherds and the Kings were not just an affair of a few individuals, they represent the manifestation of the Messiah to the Jews, who were the chosen race represented by the shepherds, and to the Gentiles represented by the three Kings.
The journey they undertook was not just a physical journey either, it was also spiritual journey. The aspiration of every man fallen from grace is for a Redeemer and in finding Jesus, they found their Saviour who would raise them up to share in His Divinity. They had found their home for all eternity.
Our Spiritual Journey
We too are on this journey to unite ourselves with our Saviour, whether we be Jew or Gentile. And we too need guides to help us find Him because He is not to be found in a likely place. Our Lord is not to be found among the noisy superstars of the world; He is not to be found among the political elite, or the rish or the aristocracy. He is to be found on the Cross. He is to be found in the Blessed Sacrament and in souls in a state of grace.
Our guide to find Him is HOLY MOTHER THE CHURCH who teaches us those truths to be found in SACRED SCRIPTURES and TRADITION.
Let us ask the HEAD OF HOLY MOTHER THE CHURCH to guide us surely (with the help of His Mother) to our journey's end. May we find Jesus in the suffering of this world, may we find him by our faith in the Blessed Sacrament, may we find him dwelling in our souls and in those of our neighbours.
And when we do find Him, may we offer gifts more precious than gold, frankincense and myrrh, may we offer Him our supernatural love which is nothing less that the love by which He loves Himself.