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T4W: Epiphany

The Epiphany is the second great Christmas feast and in its origins it is older than its Christmas Day cousin. The Epiphany, is the feast of the manifestation of the Lord to the nations; at the Baptism in the Jordan, the wedding at Cana and the adoration of the Magi. Putting it very simply, today is the feast of everyone who has set out in search of the Redeemer. It is our feast! That is what makes it so important and why this simple story of the Magi resonates so readily with each of us.

The journey we travel to God is very often a journey we travel in spite of ourselves and others. Not only do we encounter various difficulties; the Herods who try and trick us, the clouds that obscure our clear vision of the star, the human cruelty which leads so often to the slaughter of the innocents, the slow progress we make on our lumbering camels through the desert of our everyday lives; but we can also provide obstacles for ourselves and even within our very selves. We can be so stubborn and so full of self will.

Led by the star, the Magi fought their way through deserts and over mountains, successfully negotiated their way through indifference and politics until they found this child and could worship him as their Redeemer. This should read as an account of my life story. By the guiding light of a star we journey through life. Don’t take your eyes off that guiding light. There are one hundred thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone, but only one of them leads us to where we want to go. This is by far the brightest star in the night sky, all I have to do is keep my eyes fixed on it. When I reach that destination I need that keen vision even more. I have to see in that broken down old stable, the revelation of the Mystery. This is where I’m meant to be. The stable may not look like much, but for me it is more precious than the Taj Mahal. Within lies all my heart desires and so much more.

Then we come to the gifts; gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death. They also represent my own life offering. The gold of whatever good I have done, the frankincense of my worship and the myrrh of my own suffering in life. Offering these gifts the Magi bow down and worship. If I am lucky enough to have met the Lord in my life then I know exactly what that feels like and what it means. To have found Him for whom I have been searching; Him for whom my heart longs. The brightest star in the sky may have led me to this spot, but nothing can compare to the brightness that warms within me when I feel that finally, I have come home.

(Abbot Brendan’s homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany)