The Epiphany of the Lord

Reflection: Whom do you identify with?

If we want to imagine something beyond what our crèche sets depict, we might think of the Magi as a traveling group of families or friends seeking the meaning of a sign they had perceived in the heavens.

As happens to many who come to a land not their own, their presence alarmed some people. The travelers were looking for the newborn king of the Jews — and according to the religious professionals, none of the right people had an infant who fit the bill. The Magi’s questions disturbed people. As strangers, they didn’t understand that they should keep quiet and leave well enough alone. What did they hope to find in Bethlehem of all places? What were they called to? We might ask the same.

The readings for the feast of the Epiphany invite us to begin this new year by asking with whom in today’s Gospel we will decide to identify. Will we choose to settle as a sedentary church, quiet in the face of darkness, contented with the minimal ritual and almsgiving that supposedly fulfill our religious obligations?

Or do we want to be more like the Magi – eager to be on the move in search of God among us? Isaiah awakens us to what God holds out as possible. Paul tells us that we are to steward this mystery. Matthew holds up the example of the Magi to nudge us out of our cozy corners and into areas where we can encounter Emmanuel, God-with-us, in ever-new ways.

As we begin our new year, today urges us to listen to the seekers who want more than they have found in conventional religion. Their searching reminds us that God is bigger than any ritual or tradition and is always waiting to encounter us anew, somewhere beyond our expectations.

First Reading

(Isaiah 60: 1-6)

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the Earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 72: 1-2,7-8, 10-11, 12-13)

R. Lord, every nation on Earth will adore you.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on Earth will adore you.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the Earth.
R. Lord, every nation on Earth will adore you.

The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R. Lord, every nation on Earth will adore you.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on Earth will adore you.

Second Reading

(Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6)

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace 
that was given to me for your benefit, 
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations 
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.


(Matthew 2: 1-12)

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod, 
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled, 
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, 
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, 
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly 
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word, 
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, 
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures 
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 
they departed for their country by another way.