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Homily for the Epiphany of the Lord

06 Jan 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Today, the whole Catholic world celebrates the solemnity of the epiphany of the Lord. It is a celebration of the revelation of the Lord; God revealing himself in his Son Jesus Christ. It is not by chance we celebrate epiphany within the Christmas season. Christmas, its self, is an epiphany, the revelation of God.The wise men God revealed himself in Christ Jesus and continues to show himself in our daily activities. God reveals himself in creation just as St. Paul tells us in Romans 1:20 that ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. God reveals himself always in the things around us; we need the eyes of faith to see him.

As the celebration of the revelation of God, Epiphany also challenges our faith in the revealed God. When the news of the birth of Christ was announced to the shepherd who watched their flock by night, they saw the angel and recognized him as the messenger of God. But when the same message was revealed to the whole world through the appearance of a star in the sky, only very few recognized it; in fact, only three men. Yet the star was in the sky for everyone to see, not like the private revelation the shepherd had. So many people may have seen the star and admired it; some may have confused it for something else. The three wise men saw the lead in the East and recognized in it a sign that the savior of the world is born. They followed the star to Jerusalem.

To follow the star demands a lot of faith; that is why I said epiphany is not just the celebration of God’s revelation; it is also a challenge to our faith in the revealed God. The three wise men followed the star to where the newborn king was; it was a journey of faith. At a point in their journey, the star disappeared. They had to ask the question; where is he who has been born king of the Jews? They asked questions because the star disappeared from the sky, but it did not disappear from existence. The fact that the star was not in the sky at that moment did not mean that the star was fake or that the star misled them. The wise men were convinced of what they saw, whether the star remained in the sky or not; they were determined to see the newborn king; they were sure that they were not misled. They refused to go up on their mission; they resisted the temptation to go back to the East in frustration; they refused to give up. Their faith, determination, and conviction about what they saw in the East paid off; the star, the same one they had seen in the East, reappeared and went before them till it came to rest over where the child was. They saw the child and the mother and offered him gifts.

Like the three wise men, we are on a journey, a journey of life.  We just started another journey into a new year, 2017, and Jesus Christ, the supper star, lead us. This journey is a journey of faith; like the three wise men, we must trust Jesus, the superstar. That star that appeared in the East led the three wise men to Bethlehem, but Jesus, the superstar, is leading us through the year 2017 and leading us to the Father, to our eternal home. At a point in this journey of life, it may seem that Jesus the superstar is no more, it may seem that the superstar has disappeared, but in fact, he is in existence. Like the three wise men, we must not give up. They refused to give up; they were convinced of what they had seen. The same conviction is expected of us, the conviction that Jesus the superstar never fails nor mislead. Whether he’s up in the sky or not, we are encouraged to hold onto our conviction of his presence because he is Omni-present. He is always around us; he will never leave us alone.

It is unfortunate that when some Christians “lookup” and it seems the star is no more, they give up. They fall to the temptation to go back to the East.Trust God What seems to be the absence of the star provokes doubts in them to begin to feel misled. God never misleads anyone; even when he seems not to be there, he is there. All he wants from us is trust in his presence in good and in bad times. There is no need to run from pillar to post, from one Church to another. When the star was no longer in the sky, the three wise men held on. If they had gone back, if they had given up, they wouldn’t have seen the newborn king. They saw what they desired because they held on; they were determined.

Brethren, we have seen Jesus, the superstar. As we continue our journey into the year 2017 and to our eternal home, let us not be discouraged. This is the year of mercy, and Jesus says to us today; trust in me and trust in my Father.

  • Victor Ibe Reply

    Thanks Father. I have a question on the number of men that made up the magi: are they really three in number, because the Bible did not say so, or is there any other source from which this figure was determined? Kindly expkain. Thanks once again.

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      Dear Victor. The Bible says three wise men (the mega) came from the East, so they were three. Extra biblical sources may have more than that, but the Bible says three.