Epiphany of the Lord

Homily (Sermon) – Epiphany of the Lord

The Readings for the Epiphany of the Lord:
Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 71
Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6
Matthew 2:1-12
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

Today, is the last day of Christmas, the Epiphany of the Lord. It's the day we celebrate the arrival of the wise men at the nativity of the Lord. And as I sat down to prepare this homily my first thoughts were “Why is this the Epiphany of the Lord”. I thought I knew what an Epiphany was from my physics history, from the stories of Archimedes and Newton, but I struggled for a short time to work out what the Lord was having an Epiphany about. So I questioned if I really understood what Epiphany meant, so I checked and looked up what epiphany means.

Epiphany, is a word we get from ancient Greek, meaning “manifestation or striking appearance”. An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something. For example, Archimedes had an epiphany in the bath when he realised how he could tell if the Kings new crown was really made of gold, and Isaac Newton had an epiphany as he sat under an apple tree and watched a apple fall to the ground.

Thinking about this I still couldn't work out what was the Lords Epiphany, he was a baby and we have no idea what he was thinking. Then I had my own small Epiphany, the Lord was the Epiphany of the Wise Men. As they walked into that stable 2000 years ago they saw something, felt something, understood something that almost no other gentile had understood before. The wise men saw Christ and understood the they were in the presence God.

Epiphanies don't just happen, they are the result of study and hard work. The wise men had been studying for years, trying to gain an understanding of God. Looking for the meaning of life. Then God must have intervened, he showed them signs, lead them to Bethlehem. But they still didn't get the whole picture. They expected a king so they went first the the palace. When they didn't find Christ they looked again for God's guidance and follow the star to the stable. It was only then after study, journey, mistakes, and following the route God guided them on that they truly encountered God.

That is a real lesson for us. We are called like the wise men to encounter Christ, to have our own Epiphany, but to do that we must study, we must journey, we must be prepared to make mistakes and to correct them, we must listen and watch for Gods guidance and then we will have our moment of Epiphany. The wise men were the first non Jews to not only meet Christ, but to understand. They were the first of the Gentiles, they lead the way for us to follow.

As they entered the stable they fell to their knees and offered the gifts they had brought. The gifts were rare and valuable gifts and it may be that the wise men had no idea of the prophetic nature of the gifts. But a prophetic nature they had.

Gold for the kingship of Christ, David's heir, the expected leader of the of the Jewish race. Frankincense, a sweet smelling spice, used in incense, representing Christ High Priest, the Priest who would offer the ultimate sacrifice for us to God, and Myrhh another spice this time for use in preparing a body after death, here Christ's death as the sacrificial lamb, is foreshadowed.
The words in the hymn We Three Kings couldn't describe better the treasures they gave and the meanings they had. Next time you sing the words, think about them. It's a wonderful lesson set to music.
King for ever, ceasing never,over us all to reign.
Prayer and praising, all are raising, Worship him God most high.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying. Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

There is a line in Proverbs (25:2) “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” And with that phase in mind and the story of the wise men in our hearts, I want you to consider, that you, by your baptism, are a member of the Royal Priesthood of the church. It is your glory, your honour, to search for Gods concealed treasures. And when you find them, in your moments of epiphany, to offer them in worship and homage to Christ.

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  1. The Epiphany is when a light bulb switched on in the Wise Men's heads and they realised who Christ was/is.

    Sadly, this light bulb is not switched on in many heads these days.

    God bless.

  2. Thank You Victor for taking the time to comment, and the for great Blog you write yourself.


    Helping others to turn on the light bulb is something we are called to do in the way we live our lives.

    God Bless,