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The Epiphany of the Lord 04.01.2015

Epiphany is a word we hear from time to time with the sense of “revelation”. Something once hidden is now out in the open. Something once unclear now stands easily seen.

As the Church celebrates the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord the key figures who come to Bethlehem to see the child are gentiles. The wise men who came from the East, from the countries of present day Jordan and beyond, were not Jews. They did not know the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, King David, the prophets or the Maccabees. In all likelihood they were ignorant of the importance of temple worship, the traditions of the Pharisees and the synagogue. Unlike the Jews they were not looking for the appearance of a Messiah who would inaugurate a new way of living in relationship with God. They had their own stories of how the world came to be and the seven days of creation and Adam and Eve and the garden would not have featured. Apart from a small percentage of the Christian faithful today who came from Jewish background and belief, the vast majority of the Christian faithful are from a gentile background. Gentile accounts of how the world came to be are many and varied from the Rainbow Serpent to the work of pantheons of gods from Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indian and Chinese cultures.

St Paul describes the knowledge of God and consequently of the human race that has come into human history through the experience of Jesus as the revelation of a secret. The secret is that God whom Jesus prayed to as Abba, Father, was the creator of all peoples, not just the Jews. God whom we worship as Father, Son and Spirit, has no favourites and wants all to be saved by accepting the truth revealed in Jesus and coming alive in the way God always intended for us to come alive.

As the early Church delved deeper and deeper into this revelation, this epiphany, it scoured the texts of the Hebrew bible, what we know as the Old Testament and found especially in the prophecies of Isaiah clear indications that the chosen people were to be concerned about the whole world and not just themselves. They were to be a light for all nations in the way Jerusalem stood out gloriously in the morning sunshine when the valleys all around were still in darkness.

The chosen had knowledge about God that came from what God had revealed to them over the centuries but that was not to say that the gentiles had no knowledge of God. The magi through their study of astronomy came to the conviction that a king was to be born in Israel. Their knowledge brought to the land but it was the knowledge of the chosen people that took them to Bethlehem.

This combination of sources of knowledge is our story too. We all long for someone or something to set us free from evil and suffering. We modern gentiles tap into the insights born of the behavioural sciences and achieve much but like the magi getting to the heart of the matters, the end of the search, we still need to accept Jesus as the embodiment of all wisdom, as our personal Lord who brings direction to our life and in yielding to him we find ourselves no longer lost and unsure. This is what God wants trumpeted from the roof tops. This is no secret for private consumption. This is knowledge for us to share with all and sundry.

Fr Adrian Farrelly

Date Posted Title Listen Download
Jan 9, 2015 The Epiphany of the Lord 04.01.2015 Listen Download