O Star of Wonder, Star of Night

Jan. 7, 2024

This Sunday, the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, officially concludes the Christmas season. Tomorrow, the Church begins Ordinary Time with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In the Eastern Church, Epiphany is more celebrated than Christmas, as Christmas is the beginning of the Christmas season and Epiphany is the grand conclusion. Traditionally Epiphany was not celebrated on a Sunday but was always on Jan. 6.
   
We are told in Matthew’s Gospel that Magi (magicians or astrologers or wise men) from the East saw a star shining in the night and believed that this marked the birth of a new king. These Magi were probably part of the Zoroastrian religion, which included belief in astrology.  They were from Persia and having seen the star set out to find the new king and honor him. We do not know how many there were that took part in this caravan, but traditionally we speak of three, because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they asked where the Messiah was to be born and were told Bethlehem. They went there and found the child in a house in Bethlehem.  By the time the Magi arrived in Bethlehem, the Holy Family had moved from the stable where Jesus was born, into a house. They entered and did Him homage, offering their gifts. Warned by an angel not to return to Jerusalem, they went back to Persia by a different route.
   
In a dream Joseph was told that Herod and his henchmen were looking to kill the child, so he took Jesus and Mary, and they fled to Egypt, where they lived for a few years as refugees.
   
The primary meaning of the Epiphany is that it portrays the Light of Christ shining out into the Gentile world. It is hard for us to realize just how shocking it was for the early Church that it was the Gentiles, rather than the Jews, who heard the message of Christ and responded to it.
—Fr. Mike Comer

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