by Fr Christopher Maseko
The whole life of Christ was a continual Passion; others die martyrs but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha – where he was crucified – even in Bethlehem, where he was born. For to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy as first as the cross at last. His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas day and his Good Friday are but the evening and morning of the same day. As even his birth is his death, so every action and passage that manifests Christ to us is his birth, for Epiphany is manifestation. Every manifestation of Christ to the world, to the Church, to a particular soul is an Epiphany, a Christmas day.
“Lord now let your servant depart in peace…”: It is Simeon’s Epiphany, Simeon’s Christmas day. So also this day, in which we commemorate and celebrate the general Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the whole world in his birth.
We are told that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the days of Herod the king, wise men came from the East to worship him (Mt 2:1 – 12). There are several things we learn from this episode.
In the first place we come across two kings, viz, Herod, a king of this world, and Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world. King Herod was haunted throughout his life by the fear of losing power. He saw plots everywhere, dwelt only in fortresses and put death his three sons, his mother-in-law and even his own wife and now was seeking to put to death the author of life.
We see a vast contrast between King Herod and Jesus Christ whose kingdom is not of this world. Herod is powerful, wealthy, violent, and murderous whereas Jesus is meek and unarmed, a humble king who has no thrones or palaces, no earthly power or means, who comes to serve and not to be served. Herod, the king with gold, power and might is restless and anxious and Jesus with no power or means is truly at peace. To which kingdom do we belong? It goes without saying that unless we belong to Christ’s kingdom we will never enjoy peace!
The Magi saw a star in the East that led them to Christ. The people who walked in darkness saw a great light. This star represents the light of God, the grace of God… the work of God in the heart and spirit of every man, guiding every man to Christ. If we follow this light we will always be on the right path and thus be recipients of the peace that Christ promised all men of goodwill.
We are told that the Magi, on finding Christ, worshipped him. Some worship gold, others the bottle and still others power, prestige and glory. We will belong to Christ’s kingdom only if we worship him and not the things of this world.
Finally, the Magi, after they had found Christ, did not return the same way but took another route. This is the experience of every person who has found Christ. If we have truly discovered Christ in our lives we will no longer follow our old ways but follow the path that is traced out by Christ, the only path that will lead to peace and joy on this earth an everlasting glory hereafter.
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