Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
January 3, 2021 Cycle B
Fr. José Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.
Sunday Reading Meditations
“They were overjoyed at seeing the star” (Mt 2:10).
The Magi were attracted by a mysterious star that guided them to Jesus.
They had been watching the sky in search of a sign, in search of the meaning of the universe. They were looking for sense in their lives, for God.
Their wisdom, power, glory and possessions were not enough for them. They were looking for something more, beyond themselves and beyond reality.
The star surprised them! In that star was a special light, filling their hearts with joy. They experienced an unprecedented delight in the brightness that came from the star, the light that conquered all darkness! However, at the same time the star seemed to be saying: “This brightness does not come from me, it comes from another. If you want to find its origin, just follow me!” The star was inviting them to go further and take a special path: to start a long journey.
The star was special! Usually, stars have their own light. It is the same with human “stars.” If we go to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we shall see many stars! Nevertheless, those stars are only seeking their own fame. However, the star that the Magi saw was proclaiming the fame of the child born in Bethlehem.
The star seen and followed by the men of the Orient seems more like a planet. I learned in elementary school that the basic difference between a star and a planet is that a star emits light produced by a nuclear reaction in its core, whereas a planet only shines by reflected light.
I had the grace to be at the Closing of the Holy Door presided over by John Paul II on January 6, 2001. I still remember the Pope’s homily, particularly the following passage: “[...] The Church lives not for herself, but for Christ. She wants to be the ‘star,’ the point of reference which helps people find the path which leads to him. The theology of the Fathers loved to speak of the Church as mysterium lunae, in order to emphasize that, like the moon, she shines not with her own light, but reflects Christ, who is her Sun.”
The Church exists to lead all peoples to Christ. Her mission is to guide humankind to Bethlehem, to Jesus. If she gets in the way, she betrays her goal. Her mission is to allow women and men of all times to encounter, adore and offer not only their gifts but also their lives to Jesus Christ.
All the members of the Church, all the baptized, are called to live the same special mission of the star. Saint Paul helps us understand this when he says: “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be blameless and innocent, God's children without any faults among a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world” (Phil 2:14–15).
To be stars that shine in our world, we should always imitate the journey of the Magi. When they returned from Bethlehem to their own lands, they became “stars” to the world! We need to find the light that they found. We need to make our own path. We need to encounter Jesus. We need to adore and offer ourselves to him.
“They were overjoyed at seeing the star.”
May the same light that filled the Magi’s hearts with delight permeate us. May we shine in today’s world as joyful witnesses of certainty and hope. Amen.