1st Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6
2nd Reading: Ephesians 3: 2-6
Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
Today we celebrate a very ancient Eastern feast which only slowly came into the Western church. The feast stretches right back to the very origins of our faith and is believed in the first instance to commemorate the Baptism of the Lord. However, there is some doubt about this as a some of the Fathers held that the first ‘showing’ or epiphany of Jesus was at the wedding feast of Cana.
Over time in the Western Church, the feast became associated with the arrival of the Magi to worship Jesus; this was Jesus’ first ‘showing’ to the world as Messiah and redeemer. To this end the gospel for today’s Mass tells the story of the visit of the Magi as related in Matthew.
This feast falls in nicely with the season of Christmas; we have had the Nativity a couple of weeks ago and next Sunday we shall have the feast to the Baptism of the Lord. In between, we have the first official revelation of the Lord to the world, whether you follow Eastern thinking and connect this to the wedding at Cana or the Western way and think of the Magi.
The important part is that Jesus is beginning his work of redemption. He has not been recognised by the Jews nor will he ever be, but the wise men of the East know that someone very special has been born and make the journey to pay him homage.
In this they represent all the gentile people who shall come to know the Lord. In the visit of the Magi we see that Jesus and knowledge of him is not to be restricted to the Jews; Jesus is for all.
A new thing is happening here. We must never forget that as Christians our faith is always new, always fresh. The ‘showing’ of Jesus can happen at any moment and we must always be on the lookout for it in our lives.