The late President of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, was probably the consummate Great Revealer of our times. Whenever his company planned to release a new product onto the market, he would make the announcement a spellbinding production. Several months before the product’s planned release, a notice of its release date would be made to the press. Over the next few months, fascinating tidbits of information about the item would be leaked to the public. Business and technical observers would voice speculation about its features and design. There might even be some delays announced along the way. These would push back the product release date and build even more anticipation for the new item.
Finally, the day of the release announcement would arrive with great eagerness. The Apple Company would invite the media to a large auditorium for the unveiling, and Steve Jobs would appear on the stage dressed in his signature blue jeans and turtleneck shirt. He would then regal those assembled with a presentation describing just what the newly designed iPod, iPad, iPhone, or other such product would do to improve the world and make the sharing of information more accessible and faster.
Today we celebrate the Epiphany. Epiphany means revelation, and today we rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ as the most significant revelation in all of salvation history. Today’s celebration centers on the revelation that Jesus’ coming was not for only a small group of people in a tiny corner of the world, but that God wanted all the world to come to know, love, and glorify the Savior Jesus Christ.
Like the new items from Apple Computer, the world anticipated the Messiah’s coming for a very long time. Since the fall of our first parents, God promised to heal the relationship broken by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. From the time of the fall, God had promised to send a new Adam who would save us from our sins through his faithful obedience to God.
Throughout history, God would prepare the world to receive this great revelation. God would choose Abraham to be our father in faith. God would elect Moses to bring the Chosen People out of their bondage in Egypt and give them the Law to govern the people until the time of the great revelation. Throughout salvation history, God would, through first the Judges and then the Prophets, reveal tidbits of the coming glory the world would receive due to the coming of the King of Glory.
However, great fanfare didn’t accompany the revelation of the coming of the Lord. The heavenly hosts didn’t acquire a large auditorium for the announcement. No one prepared a PowerPoint presentation to explain to the assemblage of media who Jesus was and what he came to accomplish. Rather, Jesus was born in an out-of-the-way place, to an ordinary everyday couple. Rather than in opulent surroundings, a stable and manger were the site of his birth. Those called to witness it weren’t the powerful but the poor and lowly. Shepherds and common people were the ones who came to see the King of Kings come into the world.
God chose to reveal the coming of Jesus to the most unlikely of witnesses. God chose foreign Magi to be witnesses to the birth of the Messiah. People from a foreign land with little understanding of the Jewish faith and its desire for a messiah were the ones who recognized that a great event was taking place. It was to Gentiles, who had not been preferred by God or aware of God’s anticipated actions, who were to be the ones who would show the greatest anticipation for the Great Revelation of Jesus to the world.
Today’s Solemnity of the Epiphany invites us to come, meet the Messiah and give homage. Despite our not being members of the Chosen People, we are invited to come and meet the Christ Child. We are invited to come and adore Jesus because the adoration of Jesus by the Magi reveals our God wants every nation, race, and nationality to accept God’s invitation to become members of the Body of Christ. God wants no one turned away from the worship of Jesus, the only begotten son.
Today we are invited to share in an incredible revelation. It is the unveiling of the Messiah to our world again on this Epiphany. How will we react to this revelation today? We can respond like King Herod with anger and hatred. Herod heard the announcement of Jesus’ birth and became filled with jealousy and fear. He saw a newborn King of the Jews as a threat to his power and leadership. He was intimidated by the thought of a challenge to his kingship and wanted to destroy this threat.
Sometimes we can feel threatened by Jesus. Just like Herod, we believe the Messiah will come and challenge us. We fear the Messiah will see our sinful behavior, challenge it and call us to reform our lives. We fear the Messiah will want to replace our will with the will of God the Father. We worry the Messiah will become the master and power of our lives.
Maybe our reaction to the Epiphany will be indifference. Like the chief priests and religious authorities summoned by Herod to explain the scriptures and determine the birthplace of the savior, we will be indifferent. We will be absorbed in our lives and position in the world, and we won’t pay attention to the great revelation going on just around the corner from where we are standing in our lives.
Hopefully, we will take the Epiphany seriously and accompany the Magi to the Manger to adore and worship the Christ Child. We will be filled with the desire to proclaim the greatness of God. Joy will fill us knowing our God is a God who fulfills his promises of mercy to those who love God. We will rejoice that our God is a forgiving God who forgives the contrite.
We will recognize that God is so great he does not abandon us to sin but wants to share a relationship of love with us. Despite our recalcitrant sinfulness, our God will not leave us to our willfulness but continues to fill us with grace and the power to avoid sin.
This Epiphany, hopefully, we will rejoice that God has favored us. We will feel gratitude, and we will be thankful for the opportunity to serve God with our lives and generously use all our gifts to build up the Kingdom of God and make God’s name known to the entire world.
Paul reminded the Ephesians that he believed the purpose of his life was to bring all the peoples of the world to Christ. As Christians who have witnessed the presence of Christ in our world, that is our purpose too. Like the Magi, we need to bring our experience of Christ to our homes and our community.
Today we celebrate once again the great Epiphany of Jesus Christ. Again, we celebrate that God has sent Jesus into our world and unveiled him as our Savior and God. Today, in this Eucharist, God faithfully gives us the real presence of Jesus in the form of bread and wine. Today pay homage to the real presence of Christ by bringing that presence to your home, your workplace, and your community.