The Epiphany

If you adore God without presenting Him some offering, your devotion is false. ~ST. CHRYSOSTOM

Epiphany

 The word Epiphany means manifestation, and is given to this feast because on that day our Lord manifested Himself to the Gentiles through the wise men. The Gospel thus relates the fact: “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of King Herod, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews ? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to adore Him. And Herod, hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him, In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet, And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda ; for out of thee shall come forth the Captain that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently  of them the time of the star which appeared to them ; and sending them into Bethlehem, said, Go, and diligently inquire after the Child ; and when you have found Him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore Him. Who having heard the king, went their way ; and behold the star which they had seen in the east went before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary, His Mother; and, falling down, they adored Him ; and, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And, having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their own country” (Matt. ii. 1-12).

We may learn many useful lessons from this day’s Gospel : First, that when the ministers of God do not practise what they preach, we are, nevertheless in imitation of the Wise Men to walk by the lights they give us, without heeding their example. Second, that a great many are backward in going to Christ and embracing His truths, biassed by the consideration of interest, reputation, dependence, human respect, and other private or human motives. The great remedy for these is to imitate the manly faith of the Magi, and to keep our hearts, like them, detached from perishable things- wealth, pleasures, popularity, etc. The offerings of the Kings were symbolical. The gold showed that our Lord was a King ; the incense declared His Divinity, and the myrrh His humanity. They were also typical of the virtues which we ought to offer to our Blessed Saviour viz., charity, typified by the gold ; prayer, by the incense ; and mortification, by the myrrh. Mortification is a chief means for acquiring control of our unruly passions. What the spur and reins are to a skilful rider, mortification is to a zealous Christian.

On this feast we ought- (1) To thank God for calling us, through our ancestors, out of His pure mercy to the faith of Christ. (2) To adore Jesus Christ with the Wise Men, and to offer Him a sacrifice of our goods, by alms; of our hearts, by prayer; and of our evil inclinations by mortification. (3) To beg pardon for the many times we have neglected God s inspirations and followed the suggestions of interest, passion, and self-love. (4) To resolve, in spite of all worldly arguments to the contrary, to follow courageously and readily the lights of faith, the directions of our spiritual guides, and the inspirations of Almighty God, begging grace to do so. (5) To pray for the conversion of all who are still in the darkness of vice, error, or infidelity.

We can become stars to lead the Gentiles yet in darkness to Christ, by contributing regularly to the funds of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Holy Childhood. The latter gives even to children an opportunity of doing apostolic work. If we only knew the trials and difficulties experienced by missionaries in pagan countries, deprived of the ordinary resources of civilized life, we should be much more generous and more zealous in interesting others in the noble work.

Oh, may His bright star Of Faith beam afar,

And pierce the deep gloom of the night,

To bring, as of yore,

Wise men to adore

The Christ-Child, the Fountain of Light!

Example. THE MARTYRS OF JAPAN

In 1612 an English captain named William Adams, moved by hatred to Catholic priests, and by his national animosity to Spain, persuaded the Emperor of Japan that, under colour of religious zeal, the Jesuits were in reality the emissaries of a hostile power, whose object was the conquest of Japan. The long-threatening storm then burst forth. The scenes that Rome had witnessed in the heroic age of the early Church were now acted afresh.

At Arima, where the persecution was fiercest, among many other glorious martyrs was a little Christian child named Thomas, whose father had just been beheaded for the Faith, and who was condemned to the same fate. He had shouted with delight on hearing the sentence, and on account of his tender years the executioner led him by the hand to the place of death. Here the child knelt down by the side of his father s mutilated body, calmly bared his neck, and with clasped hands and cast-down eyes waited for the fatal stroke. Three soldiers, one after another, attempted to execute the sentence, but each one in turn burst into tears and cast away his sword. At length a slave was found, who literally hacked the child to pieces, but not even a sigh of pain escaped from the lips of the youthful martyr.

Civandono, King of Bongo, being urged to renounce the Faith, made the following noble and solemn protest: “I swear in Your presence, O Almighty God, that if all the Jesuits, by whose ministry You have called me to Christianity, should renounce their own teaching, and even if I were assured that all the Christians of Europe had denied Your Name, I would still confess, acknowledge, and adore You as the One, True, Almighty God of the Universe, and this even at the cost of my life.”

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