Gospel Reflection: Sunday January 5, 2020

The Epiphany of the Lord
The visit of the Magi occurs directly before the story of the
Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. Matthew’s Gospel tells a
version of Jesus’ birth that is different than the one in Luke.
Of the actual birth of Jesus, Matthew tells us little more
than, “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the
days of King Herod… ” The story of the census is found
only in Luke’s Gospel, but we hear about the visit of the
Magi only in Matthew’s Gospel.
We know little about the Magi. They come from the East
and journey to Bethlehem, following an astrological sign, so
we believe them to be astrologers. We assume that there
were three Magi based upon the naming of their three gifts.
The Gospel does not say how many Magi paid homage to
Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel, they represent the Gentiles’
search for a savior. Because the Magi represent the entire
world, they also represent our search for Jesus.
We have come to consider the gifts they bring as a
foreshadowing of Jesus’ role in salvation. We believe the
meaning of the gifts to be Christological. Gold is presented
as representative of Jesus’ kingship. Frankincense is a
symbol of his divinity because priests burned the substance
in the Temple. Myrrh, which was used to prepare the dead
for burial, is offered in anticipation of Jesus’ death.
The word Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing
forth.” Historically several moments in Christ’s early life and
ministry have been celebrated as “epiphanies,” including his
birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, his baptism by
John, and his first miracle at Cana.
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