EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6: Matthew 2:1-12
“Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”
As I reflected on today’s Epiphany readings, I was forcefully struck by the images of darkness and light. Unquestionably, during these past few weeks, we’ve keenly felt the impact of Isaiah’s words from the first reading: “See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the people. “ What deeper imprint of darkness could cover the earth than the horrific shooting event which captured our hearts on Friday morning, December 14, 2012? We riveted our attention on Sandy Hook, Connecticut, when the lives of 20 innocent children and six dedicated adults were ended, on a school site, for absolutely no reason at all. How could anyone…but, particularly parents, siblings, family members and friends ever begin to cope with the profound personal loss they experienced…and will experience daily?
Today, on the Feast of Epiphany, it’s only appropriate to seek and find “some light in the darkness” as we turn to Isaiah the prophet and Matthew, the gospel writer, both of whom give us reason to hope, even now. In the first reading, we find Isaiah living in the Old Testament world; the people in Jerusalem are feeling the pain of exile and are shrouded by “darkness” and “thick clouds covering the earth.” However, Isaiah using poetic vision, confidently foretells that “dark and gloom” will be overcome by the radiance of God’s eternal light. The people are told “they will be radiant at what they see and their hearts shall throb and overflow” when the Messiah has come!!
Then the gospel of Matthew, reflecting New Testament times, puts us in touch with the visible sign of light and hope. The Magi from the East are looking for an epiphany – the manifestation – of the “newborn king, the promised Messiah.” They see his star at its rising, and it precedes them to the place where the child has come; they prostrate and do him homage. Instinctively, they know - without a doubt – that the light from this star is eternal and will shine forever to overcome all roots of darkness and evil. The star led them on their search for the Savior – and Scripture confirms that the everlasting “light came into the world”… no person of ill-will or act of violence will ever extinguish this light.
Undoubtedly, it is only through the gift of faith we can consistently believe God’s life, and light is around us and within us. Deep reflection on this special feast will put us in touch with God in the Incarnate Jesus, and in His presence, we can seek comfort amidst the darkness of evil. Yes, Christ the Light assures us that as long as we love one another, support one another, and serve one another, Jesus is alive, and no evil will weaken his power for good, and no darkness will diminish his light. There is nowhere God’s light does not shine, and its brightness will pierce the stoniest and saddest recesses of our hearts. This Christmas season, let us continue to hope and celebrate, doing so with a renewed sense of belief and praying that these words of Isaiah may ring clear and true…
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.”
Sister Shirley Jeffcott, O.P.