“Manifestation of God (in our Beloved Pope and in Us)” (Mt. 2:1-12), by Fr. Joel Sulse, OFM

Jesus is now the evident manifestation of the Father who wants to share His unconditional love and faithfulness with all of us.

This first Sunday of the year is designated by our Church as the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. This means the manifestation of our God to us. How did this revelation come about?

The letter of Paul to the Ephesians (3:2-3a, 5-6) tells us that God’s revelation come to us as a grace which can only be understood through faith, and in our belongingness to the body of Christ Himself. This means that all are called to a universal salvation, Jews and the Gentiles alike. This has been offered by God for all of us since we are all important in Him, and He wants us to be dignified all the more by experiencing his salvific grace.

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah 60:1-6 affirms in our memory about the coming of the Light. This Light will transform the world and will draw back the whole humanity to Yahweh, our source of life. It will help all peoples restore their identity back to God through their faith in Yahweh. Following this, we are all challenged to be the light to our world as well.

How can the salvific grace enrich us? How can we become a clear light for others? How can God be manifested in us?

Matthew brings us back to the memory of the great event that happened in Bethlehem years ago. This event opened the doors of our faith beyond the Jewish backyard. This was actually the purpose of the manifestation of God. This is part of His mission. He wanted us to realize that He is for all. He wanted us to know that He did not come for a limited community only. He wants us to experience the universality of His love. This love is manifested in our faithfulness to his will. And this results in unity, peace and respect for one another and for all.

How can the Wise Men become our guide in deepening our faith? What basically are the attitudes of these men? They are from Persia – experts in astrology with the capacity to interpret dreams. Why are they persistent in seeing the child? In other words, there is that sense of openness and sincerity in them. Why are they interested? It is because they are convinced that there is something in this baby. There is therefore that evident manifestation in their hearts coming from that enthusiasm and commitment burning deep inside them. We were told that the Star in the East guided them to Bethlehem through King Herod. Why is this so? Again, there must be a reminder for Herod.

One can notice that the divine will guided the search of the wise men for a purpose. The divine hand is present every inch of the way, orchestrating the event as it unfolds. And finally, seeing the child in a lowly, smelly manger, they brought in their gifts fit for royalty. Why do they have to accord Him with the gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh? The gifts tell of who the child is and was, and his destiny.

We were told that King Herod was so disturbed. He was deeply trouble especially when the Magi did not send him any word and went the other way. His unease created a vacuum of fear and jealousy that resulted in his plotting to kill the children who are a threat to his kingdom. The imperial kingly attitude of “power hunger” blossomed in his greedy heart. His dubious intent overpowered him, thus, the killing of the infants and children. But the Magi and the the non-Jews paid homage and worshipped Jesus. They paved the way in Matthew’s special narrative: “make disciples of all nations.” They lived their faith, and followed its demands beyond reproach.

The whole story of the visit of the wise sages revolves on Jesus, an affirmation of His being the true King of Israel. And that salvation of Israel and the world comes through Him. The end of the story is a shift of us being invited like the Jewish disciples to go out to the world and bring the good news of salvation. Jesus is now the evident manifestation of the Father who wants to share His unconditional love and faithfulness with all of us.

The Magi are reminding us that we too can bring the same gifts to Jesus. They are telling us that we have that capacity as well to find “the Christ” if we have the diligence and the sincerity to look for Him. The light has been provided to us already. We just have to follow the light and faithfully manifest Him as well in our day to day living.

As we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, let us pray to God that His gifts to us be manifested by the way we live, like our beloved Pope. Let us continue to manifest ourselves as FAITHFUL GIFTS for our family, for our community, for our country, for the Church, and for His Kingdom. Happy Feast Day of the Epiphany!

About Fr. Joel and his reflections