Today we begin this new year of 2019 with the feast of the Epiphany. The word “Epiphany” means “the showing”. It is a feast based on a magic story about the discovery of Jesus by some visitors described in the Gospel of St Matthew as “wise men who came from the east”.
Who are these men Matthew is alluding to in his story? Were they actually “magi” (ie magicians)? Matthew says “they followed a star”. Were they astrologers? Over the centuries they have been described variously as kings or priests or simply nomadic desert dwellers.
No one has actually determined how many of them followed the star to Bethlehem. Tradition suggest that there were three of them; one white, one brown and one black representing all the peoples of the earth.
Over the years they have even been given then names of Casper, Melchior and Balthasar.
The gifts they are said to have brought to Jesus were gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts, in ancient mythology are said to have been symbolic of kingship, divinity and humanity.
What a magic story Matthew tells! But, in fact, Matthew is telling us a story that is relevant to all of us. It is about every human being’s search for the divine. It is about our personal search for God.
For we humans, God is unknowable and our search will lead us down unfathomable paths unless we discover who Jesus Christ really is. He is part of the life of God who became a human being like each and every one of us. Because He is human He is knowable. He is discoverable. He is lovable.
Each of us comes to know who Jesus really is in our own personal way. Some of us discover Jesus in times of great exhilaration. Others of us discover Him during times of sadness, grief or suffering. Some of us experience His miracles through healing or peaceful resignation. It is a discovery that each of us makes in our own way and today we are invited to follow our own star to the place where we discover Jesus personally.