The Feast of the Epiphany 2020
Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The Wise Men came to Bethlehem. They must have wondered why was the star guiding them to this small place. They knew from their Arabic that the town meant: ‘house of bread’. But that is all they knew. They were dependent on the light of the star to guide them.
What were they doing this in the first place? They were called ‘wise men’ for a reason. Today we might have used the word intelligent men or even scientists. Back in their native land they studied the stars. They were experts. One day they noticed a strange new phenomenon: a new star had appeared in the heavens. In the minds of these wise men this could only mean one thing; that a person of extraordinary importance had been born. And so that set off to find this person and to do him homage.
As they journeyed along they must have discussed with each other who this extraordinary child might be: surely a king. No one would disagree with that. For this reason they were not surprised when the star led them to Jerusalem. It was a magnificent town with a temple the like of which they had never seen for size and beauty. Surely this new born king would be born in a palace; they kind of palace you’d find in Jerusalem. But to their surprise he wasn’t there. Instead the star led them to a poor village just an hour’s walk south of Jerusalem. Imagine their surprise when the star stood still over Bethlehem. They had come such a long way, trusting in the guidance of the star, surely it couldn’t have made a mistake.
It led them to the home of Jesus Mary and Joseph. It must have caused quite a surprise in Bethlehem to see these three strange men on camels entering their village. It would have caused an even greater surprise to Mary and Joseph. I suppose there was surprise all round, but there was also reverence and mystery. The star did not make a mistake: this was the child. This was why a new star was born. Nature itself recognised the new born king; and not just any old king, if you can say such a thing about royalty, but the King of the Universe. The three wise men offered their gifts to the child and they did him homage. And then they returned home to tell others what they had seen.
When we come to the crib we shall see the wise men kneeling and offering their gifts. They had come a long way to see the Christ child; a phenomenon like none other, they would never forget this experience.
We too should never forget this experience. Soon we shall be taking down our decorations and putting the Christmas tree outside for the bin-men; some have done this already. Christmas for too many people will become a memory. For us, Christians, every day we should remember Christmas. Every day we should do homage to our God. He became one of us in order to tell us about the Father. He came to tell us of the Father’s love and mercy. Like the Wise men let us tell others about what we have seen. Let us share the love this child has come to bring with others in our world. Otherwise, Christmas will be just an event that occurs once a year, soon to be forgotten as we plan our summer holidays. Christmas is not just for one day, it is for ever. It is the greatest story every told; and it is ongoing. In our lives God come to us to tell us: I love you. You are lovable in my eyes. Now go out and tell others.