We are still in high octave as Christmas has not ended yet and the joy of Christmas is still in me. I hope it lasts through the year as Jesus is alive among us. The word “Epiphany” means manifestation. Jesus is not only present during Christmas but in each moment of our lives. He manifests in the people that we meet and even in strangers, and we are called to see Jesus in them and to love them. God also reveals to us Jesus his Son through the Epiphany of people coming to pay Jesus homage as the Saviour of the world.
The gospel tells the story of the wise men who travelled from the East to pay homage to Jesus by following the star to Bethlehem. When King Herod heard of this news, he was greatly troubled and asked the chief priests and scribes where the Christ would be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:1-12)
Today’s gospel is interestingly related to our lives. The star of Bethlehem symbolizes our direction of our faith – “Where are we going?” As the wise men approached Jesus, the star shines brighter than ever and eventually leads them to Jesus. I know that sometimes, we are tempted to walk the path of darkness as we are in our comfort zone and not caring about our faith journey with Jesus. It is a dangerous path which is why we must always follow the star which will guide us back to Jesus.
King Herod to me represents our temptations that continue to plague us. It is that little voice in our head that tells us to do otherwise. This is where temptation is at its strongest and we have evil intentions in our hearts but appear good on the exterior. But we must always try to love our own self and the people around us so that by guiding them, we will not listen to our temptations but keep them at bay, within our control. Like the wise men, they listened to God and not to King Herod in taking another path back to their own country.
The wise men were filled with joy when they came to the place where Jesus was. “In this new year, are we be able to be filled with the same Joy in our hearts?” The great joy of knowing Jesus is an indescribable feeling as he is the one that will lead us out of darkness. It is he who understands us and loves us unconditionally, no matter if the people around do not or say otherwise. Our self-worth with Jesus is everlasting.
The treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh that the wise men presented to Jesus, Mary and Joseph are of great significance too. Gold means the royalty of a king -Jesus is the Messiah of the world – and Frankincense means divinity – Jesus is the son of God- and Myrrh is an embalming oil used to wrap Jesus in his death after his crucifixion on the cross.
To me, it symbolizes men’s earthly journey. Gold is when we have everything going for us but we still need Jesus as without him, we are nothing. We must never believe that we are God as there is only one God. Myrrh is when we die, we are called into eternal life and joyous celebration with Jesus in heaven and where it is our rest and home. This is God’s revelation to the world to build that personal encounter with Jesus on our journey with him.
I picked up a copy of the “Evangelii Gaudium”(The Joy of the Gospel) booklet from church and it is on the New Evangelisation. In this document, Pope Francis expresses the mission of Christ that the joy that God offers encompasses everyone and everything without exclusion. Pope Francis has highlighted certain key areas:
1) Reforming the church to be more Missionary
2) Facing the temptations faced by Church Workers
3) Improvement of Homilies
4) Including the Poor
5) Striving for Peace and Dialogue with Others
6) Examining our own Spiritual Motivations for doing God’s Work
The main reason for this booklet is that Pope Francis tirelessly addresses many people in his ministry (Priests, Lay Church Workers, Ordinary Catholics and even Non-Catholics), and so it is essential to pick up this informative booklet which is free, for our own reading.
Also, my parents agreed to drive up to my uncle’s animal sanctuary in Malaysia on a Friday to visit him and also the animals. It is a idyllic place where I can put away my phone and just be free from all my worries and to find peace in nature and the animals. I am grateful to God for this opportunity to spend more time with my family even though it is just for one day. It is not everyday that I get to spend one full day with my parents and brother as we all have our own commitments.
Going forward, the Epiphany is always present in our lives, and Jesus is alive in our hearts. We are called to be instruments of the love, faith and hope that Jesus calls us to be towards the people through this journey in this new year. I will learn to accept people around me for who they are as to be loved for their own authentic self. Jesus loves everyone.
Also, I pray for the souls of those lost in the tragic Air Asia Flight QZ 8501 that God will heal their hearts and bring comfort to families struggling to accept the fate of their loved ones. It is never easy to lose somebody suddenly to death. May they be supported by their family and friends through this difficult time.
God Bless! and may we always be filled with God’s peace and love all the days of our lives.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong