Sermon For The Feast Of The Epiphany
By Fr. Cyril Veliath, SJ
The feast of the Epiphany is called “Little Christmas”, and for people belonging to some Oriental Churches, it is on this day that the birth of Christ is commemorated. The visit of the Wise Men from the East is a very touching episode in the Bible. It is a charming tale of three unknown men from remote lands, who came bearing gifts for a little baby they had never seen.
The shepherds saw Jesus the very night he was born, but when did the Wise Men see him? The scriptures tell us nothing about this, but it is possible they appeared a few weeks, a few months, or even a couple of years after the birth of the child. These men saw the child while doing the work they had to do. This is something significant, for it means that to experience God, we do not have to do anything unusual or special. It would be enough if we simply fulfilled our daily responsibilities. They found their way to Jesus by reading the scriptures and following a star, in Jerusalem they met King Herod and had some problems with him, and eventually when they met the child, they first worshiped him, and then gave him their gifts. Although he was a mere child at that time, I guess Jesus was happier with their worship than with their gifts.
These Wise Men have shown that any sincere seeker can find God, for they too overcame many barriers in order to find Jesus. What barriers did they overcome? My guess is they faced the same barriers that we in the world face today, when we try to lead a life of love. That is, they faced political, cultural, and language barriers, racial and religious prejudice, and barriers raised by hostile rulers and uncaring religious leaders. Yet, by faith, love, and tenacity they finally met the little baby, who was in truth the Eternal God.
These Wise Men were not Christians. They were just human beings who loved God and loved their neighbor. By introducing them in the Bible, Jesus informs us that he came to the earth not just for Jews or Christians but for all human beings, since he accepted no distinctions of religion, race, nationality, gender, or anything else.