God is always manifesting Himself to us in various ways. Abraham encountered God through the divine invitation that took him away from his father’s house to an unknown destination (Gen.12:1). Moses met God at the burning bush, and he also experienced the presence of God alongside the people of Israel with the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (Ex. 13:21). Elijah had diverse experiences of divine manifestation including the still wind at Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:12-13).
There are other examples of divine manifestation through the vision of angels, for instance, Abraham (Gen.18:1ff), Gideon (Judges 6:11), the mother of Samson (Judges 13:2ff), Isaiah (Is. 6:1ff), Zachariah (Luke 1:11ff), and the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26ff), to mention but these. The peculiarity of the feast of Epiphany is that God decided to manifest (show) Himself to the whole world in His Son, Jesus Christ, the word that became flesh (John 1:14) through the visit of the Wise Men. This outlook confirms the letter to the Hebrews which tells us that in times past God spoke to us through the prophets in this time He talked to us through His Son (Heb.1:1-2).
The event of the Epiphany of the Lord leaves us with a lot of lessons. Some critical questions would help us in this reflection. “Why did God choose to show His son to Wise Men from the East?” “Why was their journey such a tedious one?” “What is the significance of the visit?” “How does the visit affect our individual lives?”
The first set of people to receive the message of the birth of Jesus Christ were the shepherds who were also Israelites (Luke 2:8ff). God chose to reveal His Son to the whole world through the Wise Men from the East. The Wise Men represents all of us who are invited to come and see the revealed glory of God which the First Reading (Isaiah 60:1-6) narrates to us. To reach to the newborn King, the Wise Men had to follow the magnificent star.
The star represents the word of God which serves as the lamp for our steps and light for our feet (Psalm 119:105). From the Gospel Narrative (Matt. 2:1-12), we learn that the Magi saw a star that distinguishes itself from other stars. There are numerous stars (words and voices) around us today, but the word of God remains the unique and special star, and following the word of God would lead us to God and life eternal.
Following the star, nay, the word of God is not usually a jolly ride. Often, we encounter and face some hindering Herods on the way who make false promises to us. It takes passionate commitment, faith, and attention to the divine direction to get to the end of our journey like the Wise Men. In life, whoever you listen to determines what becomes of you. The Wise Men in the Epiphany narrative chose to listen to the voice of God instead of the voice of Herod. We could want to listen to the numerous Herods around us or pay due attention to the voice of God.
The journey of the Wise Men reflects our journey of faith to encounter God. The star appears when we are reborn in baptism to direct us towards a profound encounter with Jesus Christ. On our journey of faith, there are sometimes when our star seems to go down and out of sight like in the experience of the Wise Men. Those moments represent low spiritual moments. Like the Wise Men, we should not be discouraged either by our thoughts nor the people around us.
Our journey of faith represents the ultimate search for God, which is also the search for eternal life. We need to follow the word of God like the star. We need to remain committed, focused, and faithful. Ultimately, we need to make a unique offering following the adoration of Jesus Christ. The narrative tells us that the Wise Men gave offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gifts represent a total donation of ourselves to God; that is the body, mind, and soul. When we give all to God, He blesses us with more than what we offer.
As we celebrate the feast of Epiphany, let us remember that we are the new Wise Men and Women of our day and age still searching for Jesus Christ. The word of God tells us that those who seek the Lord would find Him (Jer. 29:13). The New Year would become a gracious one for us if we focus on seeking after God first and all other things would be added unto us (Matt. 6:33). Have a joyful celebration and remain in God’s love.