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The Feast of the Epiphany

We Three Kings

We three kings of Orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar Field and fountain, moor and mountain following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain gold I bring to crown Him again King forever, ceasing never over us all to reign frankincense to offer have I incense owns a Deity nigh prayer and praising, all men raising Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume breathes of life of gathering gloom sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying sealed in the stone-cold tomb glorious now behold Him arise King and God and Sacrifice Alleluia, Alleluia earth to heav'n replies

The First Noel

The First Noel, the Angels did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay in fields where they lay keeping their sheep on a cold winter's night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel Born is the King of Israel! 

They looked up and saw a star shining in the East beyond them far and to the earth it gave great light and so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star three Wise men came from country far to seek for a King was their intent and to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest O'er Bethlehem it took its rest and there it did both pause and stay right o'er the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those Wise men three fell reverently upon their knee and offered there in His presence their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

This morning at our Mass we sang both of these songs.  Admittedly they are among my favorite Christmas Carols.  It was very nice to end the Christmas season with these two songs.  For me they tell the story of the feast we celebrate today – the Epiphany of our Lord.  “Epiphany” means manifestation.  And the “Epiphany of the Lord” is Jesus’ manifestation not only to these three Magi from the East, but it’s also a symbolic but real manifestation of the Christ to the whole world.  These Magi, traveling from a foreign and non-Jewish nation, reveal that Jesus came for all people and all are called to adore Him.

God used what they were familiar with to call them to adore the Christ.  He used a star.  They understood the stars and when they saw this new and unique star over Bethlehem they realized that something special was happening.  So the first lesson we take from this for our own lives is that God will use what is familiar to us to call us to Himself. 

A second thing to note is that the Magi fell prostrate before the Christ Child.  They laid their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration.  They set a perfect example for us.  If these astrologers from a foreign land could come and adore Christ in such a profound way, we must do the same.  We are called to adore Him with a complete surrender of our life.

Lastly, the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  These three gifts, presented to our Lord, show that they acknowledged this Child as the Divine King who would die to save us from sin.  Gold is for a King, frankincense is a burnt offering to God, and myrrh is used for one who would die.  Thus, their adoration is grounded in the truths of who this Child is.  If we are to adore Christ properly, we must also honor Him in this threefold way.

Whatever we do this day, let us take some time to reflect on the meaning of this day and be open to our God of great surprises so that we too may respond with a total “yes.” 

Pat Schifini, OSU

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