Wise Men, Return to the World

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. We celebrate a holy day adorned with three mysteries: that on this day the star led the Magi to the manger; that wine was made from water at the wedding at Cana; that on this day Christ was baptized in the Jordan by his cousin John the Baptist. Today we celebrate that Christ has washed away our sins in the Jordan; that the Magi hasten with gifts to the newborn babe, and that the guests are gladdened with wine made from water.

But how do we internalize these things and celebrate them as our own? From his Epiphany homily in 2001 Blessed Pope John Paul II provides us with some guidance:

“…we are like the Three Wise Men who journeyed to Jesus. Now, like those Wise Men, we return to the world from which we came, to the everyday life where we will witness to what we have seen.

Indeed it compels us to start out afresh on a new stage of the journey on which we become proclaimers and heralds. The Wise Men were in a sense the first missionaries. Their encounter with Christ did not keep them in Bethlehem, but made them set out anew on the paths of the world.

We need to ‘set out anew from Christ,’ with the zeal of Pentecost, with renewed enthusiasm. To set out from him above all in a daily commitment to holiness, with an attitude of prayer and of listening to his word. To set out from him in order to testify to his Love by living a Christian life marked by communion, charity, and witness before the world.”

So what now? Now, as Howard Thurman writes below, the work of “living a Christian life marked by communion, charity, and witness” must begin.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…

And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.

The message of the Feast of Epiphany announces to all people, everywhere:

Rise up in splendor…your light has come,
The Glory of the Lord shines upon you!

Let the work of Christmas begin, and let it begin with you.

~ Work of Christmas Begins, by Howard Thurman (adapted)

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