Happy Feast of Epiphany! That word, in its Greek origin, refers to God’s revelation to humans. Today we focus on the wise men or magi who later legends have named as Melchior, Casper and Balthazar. They may have been of noble birth, educated, wealthy, and influential. Whether we agree or not with the non-biblical descriptions about them, one thing is certain: they had apparently studied the Hebrew Scriptures, in particular, the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. They knew the words of Balaam: “A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). They certainly were acquainted with the prophecy of Micah: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2; see also Matthew 2:5, 6). They probably also knew and understood the time prophecy of Daniel regarding the appearance of the Messiah (see Daniel 9:25, 26). Their study of the Scriptures led them to the Messiah and they adored him.
Reading and praying the Scriptures is the surest way to know the Messiah. “The more we seek him, the more we find him…” a famous worship song declares. The wise men must be admired for their willingness to spend their time, inconveniencing themselves a lot, in order to find Jesus and worship him. Decision to read the Bible daily is an excellent New Year resolution that can still be made on this second Sunday of 2023.
May be today is the right time to ask: Did we begin the New Year in the right spirit? St. Paul gives an excellent piece of advice he practiced himself: “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13). The spirit he advocates is to be forward-looking at the possibilities that we have in the call of God in Christ Jesus.
“Forgetting what lies behind” is an invitation to not dwell on the past failures, hurts and wrong choices but to learn from them in the light that Jesus brings into our lives. No doubt our desire is to be better persons, to live better lives, to make more healthy choices and to live with all in harmony and peace. “Straining forward to what lies ahead” is the promise of the fulfillment of our longings in Jesus. As we celebrate Epiphany today, let us remember that the wise men reached their goal because they strained forward to what lay ahead. Their guide was the star that led them from the beginning of their quest. We too need to keep our eyes on the star and should take care that we don’t lose focus.
It is said that New Year’s Day is “the first blank page of a 365 page book.” Obviously, we all desire to write good things in that book. As we enter the second week, can we be happy and proud of what we already wrote in the first seven pages of this book?
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal