The Epiphany Of The Lord, January 6, 2008

Isaiah 60: 1 - 6

Ephesians 3: 2 - 3a, 5 - 6

Matthew 2: 1 - 12

Of the four Evangelists, Matthew is the only one who tells us of Wisemen who, following a star, come fom the East to honor the birth of Jesus. Tradition, from the 6th century, has given them names: Melchior, Balthazar and Caspar. The Liturgy opens the Scriptures wide and explains the starlit journey of the Wisemen: "Arise ! Shine ! For your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen over you. Nations will walk in your light and kings in your brightness... camels in throngs will fill your streets ... All will come from Sheba, bringing gold and incense, proclaiming the name of the Lord. " declares Isaah (Is 60, 1-6) and Ps 72, a long prayer for the king given by God to his people, also sings: "all the kings of the earth will bow down before him, all the nations will serve him" (Ps 72, 11).

The entire Gospel passage is made up of opposites: Jersusalem, the royal capital, is opposed to Bethlehem, the humble village - but the place from which David came. Herod is called the king but it is the infant in Bethlehem who is the real king. The star accompanies the Magi but disappears as soon as they reach Jerusalem. The Scribes know the Scriptures but it is the Magi who go out to meet the Messiah...

The Magi seek the king of the Jews whose star they have seen in the East. They set out, trusting the miraculous revelation, the star that their function and knowledge predisposed them to understand. They come to render homage to the child whose birth has been announced in this way. By their attitude, the Wisemen recognize the divine revelation of which they are the beneficiaries. But, if they set out thanks to the star, the Magi are not led to Bethlehem but to Jerusalem where the star seems to go out.

In Jerusalem, Herod summons the Scribes and has them interpret the Scriptures. The Scribes understand: they connect in a unique way texts that, until then, had been sparse and silent; they give a reading of Micah (5, 1) that is full of clairvoyance and link it to another text, (2 Sam. 5, 2) designating a shepherd who will rule Israel. Their eyes could read and recognize the place of birth for the Messiah of God. But they won't take the route of the poor, the one the Magi take. And Herod feigns doing so.

The Magi set out again and the star comes to rest over just a dwelling - Mary and the Child. They enter and are filled with an immense joy that no one can ever take from them. They immediately offer the best of their wealth: Gold to honor a king, incense for a God, myrrh for the one who would know death but be victorious over it. The Magi's presents, like their long journey, acknowledge the king whose kingdom is elsewhere.

At the end of this episode and after their adoration, the Wisemen leave having been warned in a dream to take a different route. But henceforth, all the peoples of the earth have access to the way to God. From all the races on the earth, those walking by starlight, going to meet the Messiah of humility who saves, will be able to taste the happiness of God's presence and his entrance into our humanity. Let us be among these travelers who keep their gaze fixed on the star and the Scriptures near their hand and heart....

—Sophie Ramond, R.A.