We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
Isaiah 60: 1 – 6
Ephesians 3: 2 – 3, 5 – 6
Matthew 2: 1 -12
The word Epiphany literally means manifestation and refers to the appearance or making known of
Christ. Of course, in the beginning the feast was about the several manifestations of Christ: his
first coming into the world, his being made know to the Shepherds, his manifestation to the wise
men from the East, and it included even the Father announcing who he was at his Baptism by John,
as well as the demonstration of his power in his first miracle at the marriage feast of Cana.
For Epiphany Sunday, we hear the marvelous story from the Gospel of Matthew in which the Magi
journey to see the Christ child. This scene has beguiled artists, poets, and preachers for centuries.
But we can distill five profound spiritual lessons—about being attentive, taking action, facing
opposition, giving Christ what is best in us, and being transformed into new creations—from this
perhaps overly familiar story.
As the Church celebrates the feast of the Epiphany, we see three wise men arriving before the
manger. They are men willing to sacrifice of themselves in order to find a newborn King. This is
a sign of their wisdom: their willingness to sacrifice. Their sacrifice reflects not only their own
wisdom. Their sacrifice also reflects the One they were seeking.
Each of the wise men was willing to leave his kingdom, where he was king—where everyone
bowed down before him—in order to find a king even greater than himself. Each of the wise men
was willing to give up his riches in order to find an even greater treasure.
Epiphany celebrates the traditional gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Many legends have
grown up around the story of these wise men. One of which is that they were “three kings”. The
gospel account does not say there were three of gifts that we given – one king for each gift.
The evangelists Matthew calls them “Wise men from the East”. The Greek term is Magoi, from
which we receive the title Magi. They were probably astrologers or astronomers which explains
why they would have notice and then been so excited about finding this unusual star in the sky.
As they would later say to Hero, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw
his star in the east, and have come to worship him.” The idea that heavenly signs marked the births
and deaths of great leaders was widely accepted in Eastern culture. What these men saw intrigued
them, it excited them enough to leave their homeland to follow this star.
These Magi made a dramatic commitment of time to search for this new king. The gift of time is
one of the most precious things that we give to Jesus.
There is another wonderful message from these Wise Men for us. These three met God in the
midst of their normal daily living; they were at their respective tasks when God gave them a sign.
God is not limited to meeting with us in a certain place or at a certain hour. God can and does
speak to us anywhere and at any time.
Few persons don’t want to be rich. However, there are many people who believe they’re rich, but
who have become satisfied with riches that—in the end—aren’t going to do them real good. This
usually happens because people don’t recognize that inside the human soul, each of us has—if
you’ll consider this metaphor—two different wells to draw meaning from: to drink from as we try
to find happiness, meaning, and peace.
Anyone who is made content—who is “filled up”—by things that you can see, and hold, and drive,
and watch, is filling up the most shallow part of themselves: that first well, the shallow well. Now
every human being has this shallow well within him. It’s not that there are shallow people over
here, and deep people over there. Every single human being, including Jesus, has a shallow well
inside, in addition to the well that is so deep that it has no bottom.
The purpose of the shallow well is to let us use and enjoy things of this world for worldly needs
and purposes. This is a legitimate part of being human. It was a part of the life of Jesus. There is
a real, true and good purpose for this shallow well. After all, God’s the one who put it inside us.
But when a person tries to live his entire life out of that shallow well, he gets into trouble. He goes
Sometimes, even in his thirst, he doesn’t even notice that second well, that deeper well. But that
deeper well is the well that gives meaning to life, and that helps us understand that our lives are not
about ourselves, and that our lives are not about this world.
If you peer into the deep well, the first thing you notice is its depth, and that can be frightening.
Most of us, after all, have a healthy fear of heights. No one wants to fall. But falling into this
well—which spiritually we have to do in order to draw from it—is a form of humility.
This humility is what we see in the three wise kings, who were willing to leave the splendor and
riches of their kingdoms and enter a grotto where animals lived, in order to prostrate themselves
before a child born of a peasant girl.
Picture this: these three wise kings fall to the ground in adoration before the newborn Jesus in a
stable, where the hay of the animals was likely mixed with the waste of animals. Would you be
humble enough to kneel in that hay? These three wise kings show us what it means to give up
what we think is important in our little kingdoms in order to live from that deeper well.
Look at these three wise kings. Look at their sacrifices. There are at least two sacrifices that each
king makes. The first sacrifice is their journey. They leave behind the lands where they rule,
where they are in control, in order to bow down before the Ruler of Heaven and Earth: in order to
follow Him. The second sacrifice is what they take from their treasuries, and place before the new-
born King. But these gifts are given as a response to a greater Gift. From Jesus, from the Gift of
God the Father, the wise man knows that the whole world, and every land, and every person in
every land, will receive an infinite blessing. The gifts of the wise men are only responses to God’s
So the first thing we have to do is to be alert, attentive. And the second is a willingness to take
action. The Wise Men could have noted the appearance of the star in their charts, and done
nothing more. They could have indicated that this phenomenon probably heralded something very
special, and then gone back to their normal lives. Putting their tasks on hold, they put a
commitment to their conviction. They put feet to their faith and commenced a journey.
When God presents us with a new opportunity, are we willing to get up and begin a journey of
The story of the Wise Men helps us to see that there is something special, something remarkable
that awaits us at the end of the journey.
God Bless. Have a blessed Sunday.