Summary: Jesus was born into a Jewish family as God's chosen Messiah for the Jews. The feast of the Epiphany when we celebrate to revealing of Jesus to the gentiles clearly shows that Jesus was born for everyone and is reaching out to YOU.
God for ALL
Today we have the readings for the feast of the Epiphany and from the early days of the Church, this feast has been considered in some ways more important than Christmas.
Epiphany recalls the arrival of the magi to Bethlehem in search of the King of the Jews and 'epiphany' comes from a Greek word meaning 'showing' or 'manifestation'.
Epiphany celebrates God's revealing or manifestation of Jesus as true God, the Messiah, and Saviour of the world.
Matthew tells us how the Magi arrived in Jerusalem following a star which they interpreted as a sign of the birth of a new king.
God revealing himself to the universe – to everyone through a group of non-Jewish people.
The magi were strangers, foreigners, total outsiders who came to pay royal homage to this little child.
The Wise Men were pagans, not Jewish, and the fact that Gentiles performed the same adoration as Jewish shepherds symbolized the universal outreach for future Christianity.
Isaiah, in our OT lesson gives a message of hope that encourages the people to stand up and welcome a new day, all the darkness will be replaced with light and Israel will become a light to all the nations.
They will see all the good things God has in store for them and as we know that light is to be Jesus.
And then Paul refers to God’s great mystery revealed to him, namely that God desires to save both Jews and Gentiles in Christ.
Gentiles join the Jews in experiencing God’s promise of salvation and this is encapsulated in the story of the wise men from the East who followed a star in search of the new born king of the Jews.
When they find him, they worship him and pay him homage by offering him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
So Jesus born a Jew as their promised Messiah is now revealed as the universal saviour.
Paul reveals this mystery for us, as God’s plan for salvation is found in Christ and that it includes both Jews and Gentiles.
All are called to be members of the body of Christ and all enjoy the promises God has made to Israel.
Epiphany is the symbolic enactment of God’s divine plan – an all inclusive loving God, to whom Jesus taught us to call Father.
But this divine plan was nearly killed as the wise men made a fundamental mistake – they sought this new born king in the royal palace of King Herod in Jerusalem – after all that’s where princes lived.
They did not know what a terrible king Herod was – he ruled by fear and was utterly ruthless, if someone stood in his way they were eliminated.
Herod ruled for 44 years and earned the title, Herod the Great as he was the only one who succeeded in keeping the peace, his type of peace and bringing order into disorder.
Isn’t this such a familiar story of the recent dictators that we have seen come and go.
Herod was a great builder, the temple in Jerusalem, a water aqueduct to name but 2.
He could be generous. In times of difficulty he remitted the taxes to make things easier for the people; and in the famine of 25 B.C. he had actually melted down his own gold plate to buy corn for the starving people.
But Herod had one terrible flaw in his character, he was insanely suspicious.
And the older he became the more suspicious he grew, until, in his old age, he was, as someone said, "a murderous old man."
If he suspected anyone as a rival to his power, that person was promptly eliminated, he murdered his wife Mariamne and her mother Alexandra.
His eldest son and 2 other sons were all assassinated by him.
Augustus, the Roman Emperor, had said, bitterly, that it was safer to be Herod's pig than to be Herod's son.
So can you imagine the scene when these magi arrived on his doorstep searching for a new born king of the Jews!
Herod was the king of the Jews.
When King Herod heard that a King was to be born among the Jewish people, he panicked and called together all the chief priests and scribes.
He panicked because he was afraid to lose his throne and all Jerusalem knew the consequences.
After consulting the chief priests and scribes, Herod learnt that it has been prophesied that the King would be born in Bethlehem.
So he told the wise men to continue their journey and when they had found the Child Jesus, to report back to him so that he too could go and pay homage to the King.
But as we know, this was just a ploy so that he could send his troops to Bethlehem to kill this new born king.