Jesus is the best and the fullest of God’s manifestations to us humans. It is enough to see and know him to see and know God.
The word “epiphany” comes Greek and means “manifestation,” “revelation,” “apparition.” And there are manifestations and manifestations. They were God’s manifestations, of course, the many times he in various ways spoke through the prophets. “But in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son …. He is the reflection of God’s glory, the exact imprint of God’s very being.”
So, Jesus is God’s special and definitive manifestation, the fullest of all of his manifestations. And this revelation is not only for Jews, but for all. For the Gentiles are also heirs with Israel, members of one body, sharers in the same promise in Jesus Christ.
And the solemn feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, his manifestation to the magi, reminds us of this. We consider them kings. But the account does not say so or that there are three of them, though it mentions three gifts. And, yes, they come from the East. This highlights that God wants all to be saved and to know the truth (1 Tim 2, 4). It says again that he makes his Son a light for the Gentiles (Is 49, 6). So that salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
And we Christians are asked besides to be like the magi, and not like Herod or the chief priest and the scribes. For the magi read “the signs of the times” humbly —they ask questions— and rightly (see GS 4).
Herod, on the other hand, has no interest in signs from God. All he is about is to hold power, by hook or by crook. Those, in turn, who stand for religion and are wise do know the signs. But they do nothing to seek the Meaning of the signs.
Manifestations of God’s love
To seek the one whom the signs mean is to seek the best, the greatest, of the manifestations of God’s love. Yes, God so loves us he gives his only Son so that we may not perish but have eternal life. And he shows that he loves since Christ dies for us sinners. In other words, Christ gives his life for us and thus makes known to us the greatest love.
No, love is not that we love God. Rather, it is that he loves us and sends his Son as a sacrifice to atone for our sins. To know, yes, the one who gives his life for us is to know God.
But if we do not love, would that not put in doubt our knowledge of God? In fact, the teaching is clear that those who do not love do not know God, for he is love. Besides, there is the saying that deeds, not words, are love (1 Jn 3, 17-18).
In truth, we are to love with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brows (SV.EN XI:32). And in an infinitely inventive way that will make us give our bodies up, as Jesus, and shed our blood (SV.EN XI:131).
Lord Jesus, make our works of love be manifestations of your love. We will thus do our share to let the world know that you are God’s full apparition to us humans.
2 January 2022
Epiphany of the Lord
Is 60, 1-6; Eph 3, 2-3a. 5-6; Mt 2, 1-12