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AN EPIPHANY REFLECTION
The story of the magi giving homage to the baby Jesus centers on the issues of exclusivity and jealousy. First of all King Herod was afraid of the announcement of the newborn “King of the Jews.” He was afraid of losing his position and his exclusivity as ruler over the Jewish people. His jealousy made him blind to the prophecy and Jesus’ mission to bring about not another human kingdom, but the kingdom of God.
The other problem with this story is, that the people of Israel have had a long history of being intimate and special through the covenants made by God. We find an example for the election of the people of Israel in the first readings from the prophet Isaiah: “Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. … Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.” Israel is the chosen people; it has a special position among other nations who will look up to them.
But the story of the Epiphany shows that Jesus came for all peoples – even for the lowly shepherds and foreigners like the magi. The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy through the magi makes Israel great in the eyes of God. God fulfills his promises and sends his son, a little child, born by a Jewish woman, part of the Jewish people, descendent of the great king David. God’s love for Israel is great, but not restricted to them. Shepherds and foreigners come and worship Jesus first. The magi fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of “caravans and camels shall come bearing gold and frankincense.”
Like the magi, we are invited to give our human riches as gifts to the Lord and give up our jealousies and fears. As we come to the Eucharist this Sunday, let us ask the Lord to open our hearts to all of humanity and show them the way to the Son of God who became human like us and for all of us. Let us ask for the grace to be truly transformed by Jesus present in the Eucharist and return home “by another way” – the way of Jesus Christ