Epiphany of the Lord (Jan 8) (8-minute homily in 1 page) L/23
Epiphany of the Lord (Jan 8) (8-minute homily in 1 page) L/23

Epiphany of the Lord (Jan 8) (8-minute homily in 1 page) L/23

Introduction: The Greek word Epiphany (επιφάνεια), means appearance or manifestation. First, the angels revealed Jesus to the shepherds.  In the Western Church, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ first manifestation to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, while in the Eastern Church, the Feast commemorates the baptism of Christ, at which the Father and the Holy Spirit gave combined testimony to Jesus’ identity as Son of God.   Later, in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus revealed Himself in words as the promised Messiah, and at Cana Jesus revealed His Divinity by transforming water into wine. These multiple revelations are all suggested by the Feast of the Epiphany. 

Scripture lessons summarized:    Today’s Gospel teaches us how Christ enriches those who bring Him their hearts and offer their lives to Him.  The adoration of the Magi fulfills the oracle of Isaiah (first reading), prophesying that the nations of the world would travel to the Holy City following a brilliant light, bringing gold and incense to contribute to the worship of God. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 72) verses 10-11 picture kings from foreign lands bringing gifts to pay homage to a just king in Israel. Paul's letter to the Church of Ephesus (today’s second reading), expresses God’s secret plan in clear terms: "the Gentiles are…co-heirs … co-partners in the promise, in Christ Jesus through the Gospel." Today’s Gospel reminds us that if God brought the Magi – foreigners and pagans – to recognize and give Jesus proper respect as the King of Jews, we should know that there is nothing in our sinful lives that would keep God from bringing us to Jesus.  There were three groups of people who reacted to the Epiphany of Christ’s birth. The first group, headed by King Herod, tried to eliminate Jesus, the second group, priests and scribes, ignored Jesus, and the third group, represented by the shepherds and the Magi, came to adore Jesus. 

Life Messages: (1) Let us make sure that we belong to the third group:  a) by actively worshiping Jesus at Mass with the gold of our love, the myrrh of our humility and the frankincense of our adoration; b) by giving a new direction to our lives. Just as the Magi chose another route to return to their homes, let us choose a better way of life, abstaining from proud, unjust, and impure thoughts, words, and actions, evil habits, and selfish behavior; c) by becoming stars leading others to Jesus, as the star led the Magi to Jesus.   Let us remove the darkness of the evil around us by radiating the light of Jesus’ love through selfless service, unconditional forgiveness, and compassionate care. (2) Like the Magi, let us offer Jesus our gifts on this feast of Epiphany and every day: (a) the Gift of our life by offering it on the altar during the Holy Mass and every morning as soon as we get up, asking for the strengthening anointing of the Holy Spirit to do good and avoid evil during the course of the day. b) the Gift of responsive relationship with God by talking to Him in personal and family prayers and listening to Him through reading the Holy Bible every day. c) the Gift of friendship with God by recognizing Jesus’  presence in, and  offering loving, humble service to, everyone we encounter, and by getting reconciled to God every night, asking His pardon and forgiveness for our sins and failures during the day.

Feast of Epiphany (Jan 8): Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6; Mt 2:1-12 

Homily starter anecdotes # 1:Because you never know what’s going to happen next!” A survey was made among school children asking the question why they enjoyed reading Harry Potter novels and watching Harry Potter movies. The most common answer was, “Because you never know what’s going to happen next!” The same element of suspense and discovery marked the journey of the Magi, who never knew what road the Spirit was going to take them down next. Half a billion people all around the world watched with suspense and were thrilled when men,  three astronauts in Apollo 8, landed for the first time on the moon (July 20th, 1969). When pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager made their historic flight in 1986 with their spindly Voyager aircraft, the whole world followed it with excitement. For nine days a sky-watch was kept tracking the first non-stop global flight without refueling. The same elements of suspense and discovery were there when Marco Polo journeyed to India and China, when Christopher Columbus travelled to America, and when Admiral Byrd went to the South Pole. Such adventurers have always aroused our admiration and curiosity. -- The magi-astrologers described in today’s Gospel had to be a little crazy leaving the security of their homeland to venture forth into a strange country presided over by a mad king like Herod, in search of a Divine Child. But their great Faith, curiosity, and adventurous spirit enabled them to discover the secret of the whole universe – the secret of God’s incredible love for His people – because the Child they found was no ordinary child, but the very Son of God become man. Today’s readings invite us to have the curiosity of the school students and the Faith and adventurous spirit of the magi so that we may experience the "epiphany" of our God in everyone and every event, everywhere. (adapted from Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: A woman among the Magi? Renowned Gospel of Matthew professor, Dominican friar and priest, Rev. Benedict Thomas Viviano has a new Biblical theory that may change nativity scenes across the globe: there was one Wise Woman (or more) among the Wise Men. (https://www.stlbeacon.org/#!/content/17405/viviano_writes_about_a_woman_magi). Viviano’s original theory was published in 2011 in Studies of Matthew by Leuven University Press. It’s “perfectly plausible,” he argues, that Matthew would have understood the magi as some sort of Eastern sages. “On the other hand,” Viviano suggests, “the masculine plural magoi does not close the question of gender. … The main reason to think of the presence of one or more women among the magi is the background story of the queen of Sheba, with her quest for Israelite royal wisdom, her reverent awe, and her three gifts fit for a king.” Viviano’s second reason to suspect the presence of the feminine, he says, is the Israelite tradition of personifying wisdom as a woman (Proverbs 8:22-30; 9:1-6; Sirach, 24). Viviano’s third argument for his female-among-the-magi cause is that Matthew’s Gospel later characterizes Jesus as embodying wisdom, which Jewish literature considers female and even terms Lady Wisdom. The passages Viviano refers to are Matthew, Chapter 11:19 and 25-30. -- What difference would it have made if there had been a woman among the magi? A women’s magazine said: “They would have come before the birth of Jesus, brought provisions for the child and his mother, and would have served as midwives!” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#3: Artaban the fourth Wise Man: In 1895, Henry van Dyke wrote the story, “The Other Wise Man," telling of a fourth wise man called Artaban. Our hero is not mentioned in the Gospel because he missed the caravan. He got to Bethlehem too late to see the Baby Jesus. But Artaban did make it in time, using one of his gifts for the newborn King to save one of the Holy Innocents by bribing a soldier. For 33 years Artaban searched for Jesus. He did not find Jesus, but  in the meantime, the Fourth wise man used the precious gifts he had brought for the King to  feed the hungry and help the poor. Then one day in Jerusalem Artaban saw the "King of the Jews" being crucified. He started to offer his last gift for the King, a great pearl, to the soldiers as ransom for Him. But then he saw a girl being sold into slavery to pay family debts. Artaban gave his pearl to buy freedom for the girl. Suddenly the earth quaked as Jesus died on the cross and a stone struck Artaban. Dying, he heard a Voice saying: "When you helped the least of my children, you helped me. Meet me in Heaven!" -- Artaban, the fourth Wise Man, had been making God present in his community for years by helping others. God asks each of us on the feast of Epiphany to be a fourth Wise Man by becoming Gods epiphanies, making His love present in the world around us by our acts of love and kindness. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: The Greek word Epiphany (επιφάνεια), which means appearance or manifestation or showing forth, is used to describe   Jesusfirst appearance to the Gentiles.  Originally, the word Epiphany referred to the visit of a king to the people of his provinces. In the context of Christianity, "Epiphany" refers to Gods Self-revelation as well as to the revelation of Jesus as His Son. The Feast of the Epiphany, having originated in the East in the late second century, is an older celebration than the feast of Christmas.  In Italy and Spain, the gifts traditionally associated with the Christmas season are exchanged today, on the feast of the Epiphany. Among Italians, it is believed that the gifts are brought by the old woman, Befana (from Epiphany), whereas Spanish custom attributes the gifts to the Kings or Magi. 

In the Western Church, the feast commemorates the coming of the Magi as the occasion for the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles; in the Eastern Church, the feast also commemorates   the baptism of Christ. The angels revealed Jesus to the shepherds, and the star revealed Jesus to the Magi, who had already received hints of Him from Jewish Scriptures. Some thirty years later, God the Father revealed to Israel   Jesus' identity as His Son, as John baptized Jesus in the Jordan.  In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus revealed Himself as the promised Messiah.   Finally, Jesus revealed His Divinity by turning water into wine at the wedding of Cana. These multiple revelations are all suggested by the Feast of the Epiphany.      

Scripture readings summarized: Todays Old Testament reading, Isaiah 60:1-6, is chosen partly because it mentions non-Jews bringing gifts in homage to the God of Israel. Here the Prophet Isaiah, consoling the people in exile, speaks of the restoration of New Jerusalem from which the glory of Yahweh becomes visible even to the pagan nations. Jerusalem,” the prophet Isaiah cries out, “your light has come in the midst of darkness and thick clouds covering the earth; the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” For the people of Israel, then in exile in a foreign land, Isaiah was promising redemption, renewal, and restoration –- a new life, to be lived in their own land. And the promise goes beyond the Jewish people to include all peoples. For the prophecy continues, “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Thus, in this passage, the prophecy which the Lord God gives His people celebrates the Divine Light that will emanate from Jerusalem, and  it pictures all the nations acknowledging and enjoying that Light and walking by It. As a sign of gratitude for the priceless lessons of Faith offered by Jerusalem, the nations will bring wealth by land and sea, especially gold for the Temple and frankincense for the sacrifice. Everyone will be drawn to Jerusalem because the radiance of God’s favor rests on her. This prophecy of Isaiah is realized in Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed One (Christ;  Messiah),  Savior of the world, and in His Church, the New Jerusalem made up of Jews and Gentiles. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 72) declares “The kings of Tarshish  and the Isles shall offer gifts; the Kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute. All kings shall pay Him homage, all nations shall serve Him” (vv 12-13). In Christ, God is calling together the one human race to acknowledge and serve Him in holiness. Thus, this  reading with its response expresses Hope for a time when the people of Godwill embrace all nations. As a privileged recipient of a Divine epiphany,” Saint Paul, in today’s second reading, reveals Gods secret plan,that the Gentiles also have a part with the Jews in Divine blessings. Affirming the mystery of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, Paul explains that the plan of God includes both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus implements this Divine plan by extending membership in the Church, making it available to all peoples. Thus, the Jews and the Gentiles have become, coheirs, members of the same Body and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. Hence, there are no second-class members in the Church among Christian believers. Paul declares that he has been commissioned by Christ to make this mystery known to the world. Todays Gospel teaches us how Christ enriches those who bring Him their hearts. These pagan Magi were acceptable to God because they feared God and did what was right.  Since the Magi came with humble  joy in their hearts to visit the Christ Child, God allowed them to see wondrous things. At the same time, todays Gospel hints at different reactions to the news of Jesusbirth, foreshadowing Jesus’  passion and death, as well as the risen Jesusmandate to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19).


Gospel exegesis:  The first two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel together with Luke, Chapters 1 and 2, come under the heading “infancy narratives.” They have been described by Raymond E. Brown (The Birth of the Messiah, Image Books, New York: 1979), as a “Gospel in miniature,” in which the evangelist has set forth the basic tenets of the Good News, namely, (1) the universal scope of salvation; (2) an affirmation of Jesus’ Divine origins and Messianic mission; (3) the implications of God’s plan and of Jesus’ mission for the Church, i.e. a missiology of world-wide proportions. 

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Description automatically generatedThe Magi and the star: The Magi were not Kings, but a caste of Persian priests who served Kings by using their skills in interpreting dreams and the movements of the stars. The sixth century Italian tradition that the Magi finding Jesus were three Magi, Casper, Balthazar, and Melchior, is based on the fact that three gifts are mentioned in Matthews Gospel:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew nowhere says that there were three wise men from the East. Tradition holds each of them came from a different culture: Melchior was Asian, Balthazar was Persian, and Caspar was Ethiopian - thus representing the three races known to the ancient world. “They are supposed to have been kings, but this stems from a very literal translation of a psalm verse: ‘The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts’ (Ps 72:10). Ancient depictions of them never involved symbols of royalty, but simply the Phrygian cap and garments of noble Persians” (Dr. M Watson). The Magi may actually have been Persian priests or Babylonian astronomers or Nabataean spice-traders. Eventually, however, they were pictured as representatives of different peoples and races.   The Orthodox Church holds that the Magi consisted of twelve Kings, corresponding in number to the twelve tribes of Israel.  (The term magoi in Greek refers to a wide variety of people, including fortune-tellers, priestly augurs, magicians, and astrologers). Because of their connection with the star in this story, it is safe to conclude that Matthew identified them mostly with the last group. Possibly they came from Babylonia, or Persia, where the word magus originated. There were almost certainly Gentiles, for if they had been Jews, they would have known better than to ask King Herod about a national ruler who would challenge his dynasty! It is not clear from the story why they wanted to pay homage to a Jewish king, or what they learned about him from their observations of “his star” (Mt 2:2) (Dr. M Watson). Christian life, the life of God's people, is most often represented in the Bible and in literature, as a journey – a journey that begins with our confession of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior in Baptism and ends when we at last meet Him, God’s  Incarnate Only-begotten Son, in the Trinity, face to Face, in God's heavenly kingdom. The magi represent the first fruits of the pagan nations, welcoming the Good News of Salvation through the Incarnation (CCC #528). Note that in Matthew’s Gospel, it is  Mary  who makes the Word known first to Gentiles (the magi) (CCC #724).

The star:  Commentary on the Torah by Jewish rabbis suggests that a star appeared in the sky at the births of Abraham, Isaac, and Moses.  Similarly, in the Book of Numbers, the prophet Balaam speaks of "a star that shall come out of Jacob."  Stars were believed to be signs from God, announcing important events.   Thus, the brightness of the Light to which Magi  were drawn was made visible in the star they followed. (In the last 40 years, a number of scientists and astronomers have pointed to particular clusterings of planets or stars around the time of Jesus’ birth, which would have created an unusual or dramatic heavenly “portent,” suggesting that perhaps Matthew’s account is more historical than some exegetes might choose to believe). The star which shone over the area and served as a beacon for the astrologers can be explained scientifically. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), a German astrologer and mathematician, calculated that the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn which occurred ca 7-6 B.C.E. could have produced such an illumination in the sky over Bethlehem.  However, the star featured in Matthew’s narrative figures more importantly because of its theological significance. No doubt, Matthew, with his mission to demonstrate that Jesus was the Promised One and the fulfillment of all Jewish hopes and prophecies, intended his readers to recall the story of Balaam in the book of Numbers (chapters 22-24). Therein, Balaam, a pagan seer from the East was co-opted by Balak, king of Moab to curse the Israelites. Prevented by Yahweh from uttering the curse,  Balaam blessed Israel and prophesied, “a star shall rise from Jacob and a scepter shall arise out of Israel” (Nm 24:17). Matthew portrayed the astral herald that proclaimed the appearance of Jesus and beckoned the Gentiles to salvation as the fulfillment of Balaam’s prophesy.(Sanchez Files). 

The gifts:  Gold, frankincense and myrrh may be thought of as prophesying Jesusfuture.  Gold was a gift for Kings; frankincense (an ancient air purifier and perfume), was offered to God in Temple worship (Ex 30:37); and myrrh (an oriental remedy for intestinal worms in infants), was used by the High Priest as an anointing oil (Ex 30:23), and to prepare bodies for burial.  These gifts were not only expensive but portable.  Perhaps Joseph sold the gifts to finance the Holy Familys trip to Egypt.   The gifts might have been Gods way of providing for the journey that lay ahead.  

The triple reactions: The Epiphany can be looked on as a symbol for our pilgrimage through life to Christ.   The feast invites us to see ourselves in the Magi – a people on a journey to Christ.     Todays Gospel also tells us the story of the encounter of the Magi with the evil King Herod.   This encounter demonstrates three reactions to Jesusbirth, a) Hatred: a group of people headed by Herod planned to destroy Jesus;   b) Indifference: another group, composed of priests and scribes, ignored Jesus;   c) Adoration: the members of a third group -- shepherds and the magi -- adored Jesus and offered themselves to Him.

A) The destructive group:  King Herod considered Jesus a potential threat to his kingship.  Herod the Great was a cruel, selfish king who murdered his mother-in-law, wife, two brothers-in-law and three children on suspicion that they had plotted against him. In today’s Gospel, Herod asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. Their answer tells him, and us, much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise -- one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Sm 2:5), the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth” (see Mi 5:1-3) (Dr. Hann). Later, the scribes and Pharisees would plot to kill Jesus because Jesus had criticized them and tried to reform some of their practices. Today, many oppose Christ and the Church because of their selfish motives, evil ways, and unjust lives. Children still have Herods to fear. In the United States alone, one and a half million innocents, unborn children are aborted annually.

B) The group that ignored Christ:  The scribes, the Pharisees, and the Jewish priests knew the nearly 500 prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures concerning the promised Messiah.  They were able to tell Herod the exact time and place of Jesusbirth.   They were in the habit of concluding their reading from the prophets on the Sabbath day by saying, We shall now pray for the speedy arrival of the Messiah.”   Unfortunately, they were more interested in their own selfish gains than in discovering the truth. Hence, they refused to go and see the child Jesus -- even though Bethlehem was quite close to Jerusalem.  Today, many Christians remind us of this group.   They practice their religion from selfish motives, like gaining political power, prestige, and recognition by society.   They ignore Jesus' teachings in their private lives.

C) The group that adored Jesus and offered Him gifts:  This group was composed of the shepherds and the Magi.  The shepherds offered the only gifts they had: love, tears of joy, and probably woolen clothes and milk from their sheep.  The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, were following the star that Balaam had predicted would rise, along with the ruler’s staff, over the house of Jacob (see Nm 24:17). The Magi offered gold, in recognition of Jesus as the King of the Jews; frankincense, in acknowledgment of HIM as God, and myrrh as a symbol of His human nature. “Like the Magi, every person has two great ‘books’ which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive and alert, and listen to God Who speaks to us, Who always speaks to us.” (Pope Francis) 

Life Messages: (1) Let us make sure that we belong to the third group.  a) Let us worship Jesus at Mass, every day if we can, with the gold of our love, the myrrh of our humility and the frankincense of our adoration.  Let us offer God our very selves, promising Him that we will use His blessings to do good for our fellow men.   b) Let us plot a better path for our lives.  Just as the Magi chose another route to return to their homes, let us choose a better way of life, abstaining from proud and impure thoughts, words and actions, evil habits, and selfish behavior.  c)  Let us become the star, leading others to Jesus, as the star led the Magi to Him.   We can remove or lessen the darkness of the evil around us by being, if not like stars, at least like candles, radiating Jesus’ love by selfless service, unconditional forgiveness, and compassionate care.

(2) Like the Magi, let us offer Jesus our gifts on this feast of Epiphany and every day: (a) Gift of our life by offering it on the altar during the Holy Mass and by offering it to God every morning as soon as we get up, asking Him for the strengthening anointing of the Holy Spirit to do good and avoid evil during the course of the day. b) Gift of relationship with God by talking to Him in personal and family prayers and listening to Him by reading the Holy Bible every day. c) Gift of friendship with God by experiencing His presence in everyone we encounter, by offering Him our humble service, and by getting reconciled to God every night, asking His pardon and forgiveness for our sins and failures during the day. 

Let us conclude with a 19th century English carol, Christina Rosettis A Christmas Carol, which begins, In the bleak midwinter.The carol sums up, in its last stanza, the nature of "giving to the Christ Child:

What can I give him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I could give a Lamb.

If I were a wise man, I could do my part.

          What I can I give Him?  Give Him my heart!


JOKES OF THE WEEK: 1) "I want your big cow!": It was an excited little girl who told me this story. The first two wise men got down from their camels and offered their precious gifts to the Baby. He declined them. When the Baby Jesus declined the gift of the third of the also, the exasperated wise man asked, "Then what do you want?" The Child Jesus answered quickly and with a warm smile, "Your big cow!"

2) An 8-year-old asked, "How come the kings brought perfume to Jesus? What kind of gift is that for a baby?" His 9-year-old sister answered, "Haven't you ever smelled a barn? With dirty animals around, Mary needed something to freshen the air."  

3) A husband asked his wife, "Why would God give the wise men a star to guide them?" She replied, "Because God knows men are too proud to ask directions."

4) Three Wise Women: While they were talking about the story of the three wise men, a woman asked her parish priest, this question, "Do you know why God gave the star to the wise men?" When he professed his ignorance, she told him: "God knows men are too proud to ask directions. If there had been three wise women instead of three wise men, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and given some practical gifts!” 

4) Epiphany of a Sunday school boy: A little boy returned from Sunday school with a new perspective on the Christmas story. He had learned all about the Wise Men from the East who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. He was so excited that he could hardly wait to tell his parents. As soon as he arrived home, he immediately began, “I learned all about the very First Christmas in Sunday school today! There wasn’t a Santa Claus way back then, so these three skinny guys on camels had to deliver all the toys!” He further continued, “And Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with his nose so bright also wasn’t there yet, so they had to have this big spotlight in the sky to find their way around!”


5) Epiphany of a pilot: A helicopter was flying around above Seattle one day when an electrical malfunction disabled all the aircraft's electronic navigation and communications equipment. Due to the clouds and haze, the pilot could not determine the helicopter's position and course to steer to the airport. The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it in the helicopter's window. The pilot's sign said "Where am I?" in large letters. People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign, and held it in a building window. Their sign said, "You are in a helicopter." The pilot smiled, waved, looked at his map, determined the course to steer to Sea-Tac airport, and landed safely. After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the "You are in a helicopter" sign helped determine their position. The pilot responded, "I knew that had to be the Microsoft building because, like their help-lines, they gave me a technically correct but completely useless answer." 

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK (for daily homilies)

1) Dr. Brant Pitre’s  commentary on Cycle A Sunday Scripture: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-c 

2)Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:


3)Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs:  https://sundayprep.org  

4) Fr. Nick’s collection:  http://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/weekday 

5)Based on Barclay commentary: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/

6)Saint of the Day: a) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/

b) http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/SaintofDay/default.asp


8)An Important apologetic source: https://www.crediblecatholic.com/pdf/M5/BB5.pdf 




Scriptural Homilies Cycle A (No. 9) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

38 Additional anecdotes: 1) Three kings in a school Christmas play: I read this story about high school students who were putting on a Christmas play which they themselves had written. In the afternoon before the play’s performance, the students suddenly realized that they had forgotten all about the three kings in the story. The director of the play hit upon the following solution: he would phone three people at random and ask them if they would stand in for the three kings. All they had to do was this: bring along some gift which was especially meaningful to them and then explain in their own words why they had chosen that gift. 

The first of the three kings was a fifty-year-old father of five. He worked for the town council. He brought along a pair of crutches and explained: “Some years ago I was in a head-on collision on the highway. I spent many months in the hospital with broken bones. No one was sure that I would ever walk again. But I tried and tried and used these crutches for weeks. During that time my whole attitude changed: I became happy and grateful for every little daily success. I learned to take nothing for granted. I bring these crutches as a symbol of my personal thanks to God.”

The second of the three kings was really a queen, a mother of two children. She brought along a bundle of diapers and baby clothes. She explained: “I was very happy and successful as a graphic artist. Then I got married and the bottom fell out of my life. My husband did not want me to work anymore. All he wanted me to do was stay at home and take care of the house. Then along came the babies and they needed me. But after they grew up, I was again lost…. until I began to put my talents to work in creative art classes for children. I bring along this bundle of baby things to show that it was the little ones, the babies, who brought a new meaning into my life. I feel that by working and helping in their little world I am bettering the whole family of mankind.”

The third king was a young teenager. All he brought along was a blank piece of paper. He laid it before the Infant Jesus in the crib and explained: “I was not even sure whether I should come here or not… My hands are empty; I have nothing to give. In my heart I long for success and a meaning for my life. I am filled with doubts and questions and unrest. My future looks foggy and unclear to me. I lay this empty sheet of paper before You, Child in the crib and ask You to bring me an answer to some of my problems. I feel empty on the inside but my heart is open and receptive.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 2) The wise men: There is a beautiful old tradition about the star in the East. The story says that when the star had finished its task of directing the wise men to the baby, it fell from the sky and dropped down into the city well of Bethlehem. According to some legends, that star is there to this day and can sometimes still be seen by those whose hearts are pure and clean. It's a pretty story. It kind of makes you feel warm inside. There are other legends about this story of the wise men from the east. For instance, how many wise men were there? In the old days in the east, they believed that there were 12 men who made the journey, but now most everyone agrees there were three. One old legend even tells us the names of the three. Melchior was the oldest of the group, with a full beard. He gave the baby the gift of gold. Balthazar also had a beard, but was not as old as Melchior. He presented the gift of myrrh. The youngest of the three was Casper, who had no beard yet, but did present the gift of frankincense to the baby. Yet another legend goes on to tell us that, after seeing the baby, the three continued traveling as far as Spain, telling the world the good news about what they had seen. -- These stories bring the wise men a little more to life and add some color to the meaning of Christmas. -- They can also get in the way. The problem with legends is that sometimes they add color to stories that don't need any additional color. In fact, sometimes legends are so colorful, they are unbelievable, and can end up making the entire story unbelievable as well,  kind of like that star falling in the well. It makes you warm inside. It also makes you wonder. I am not out to ban legends, but I do think it might be worthwhile to hear the story one more time, the way it was told the first time.... (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Epiphany of Christ in His most distressing disguises. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (canonized October 19, 2016 by Pope Francis as St. Teresa of Calcutta) died of a heart attack. She has been lauded as the “Saint of the Gutters,” as one of the “greatest women of the twentieth century” and as “one who made it her life’s work to care for the poorest of the poor.” Never stinting in her commitment to Christ, especially to “Christ in his most distressing disguises” (e.g. the sick, the dying, the outcasts, lepers, people with A.I.D.S, etc.), Mother Teresa described herself as “a pencil in God’s hands. “As long as God keeps pouring in the ink, I will continue to let God write with me and through me.” Through this physically diminutive, spiritual giant, God has indeed writ large. Through her, God has continued to reveal in our midst the mystery or secret plan of salvation of which the author of Ephesians writes in today’s second reading. St.  Teresa of Calcutta understood that there were no second-class citizens in the people of God. Nor is anyone an afterthought in God’s saving plan. The small nun who ministered to the world’s poor also left the world a legacy and a challenge. -- At the beginning of this new year, contemporary believers might take time to consider if her legacy will live on in them and how that challenge can be met. Am I willing to accept and cherish absolutely everyone I meet as a co-heir, as a member of the same body and as a sharer of God’s promises? If so, then God’s secret plan continues to be revealed in me; if not, then I have darkened and obscured the manifestation of love and light that we celebrate today. (Sanchez Files). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) Epiphany of adventurers: When pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager made their historic flight in 1986 with their spindly Voyager aircraft, the whole world followed it with excitement. For nine days a sky-watch was kept, tracking their first non-stop global flight without refueling. Achievers and risk-takers like Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager have always fascinated us. Marco Polo journeying to India and China, Christopher Columbus coming to America, Admiral Byrd going to the South Pole, our Astronauts flying to the moon --  such adventurers have always aroused our admiration and our skepticism. It was no different at the time of the Magi in todays Gospel story. --  To the cynical observer, the Magi must have seemed foolish to go following a star. These astrologers had to be a little crazy leaving the security of their homeland to venture forth into a strange country ruled by a madman like Herod. Nevertheless, to the person with the eyes of Faith, the Magi had discovered an immense secret. They found not only the secret of the star, but the secret of the whole universe the secret of Gods incredible love for his people. For the child they found was no ordinary child but the very Son of God become man (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).


5) My Star: Consider the true story of a young man named Tony. He travelled all over the world, appearing widely on stage and on television as a drummer in a world-famous music group. Then one day Tony felt called to the priesthood. When he resigned from the music group to enter a seminary, some people thought him to be a fool. -- The story could end here. And if it did, some would consider it to be a sad story. It would be the story of a young man who let a dream slip through his fingers. But the story doesnt end here. Tonys now a priest in the diocese of Dallas. And hes tremendously happy. Jesus will someday say to him what he said to Artaban: Youve been helping me all your life, Tony. What you did for your Parishioners, you did for me.(Mark Link in Sunday Homilies). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).


6) An epiphany in the airport. We spot what looks like a family – a mom, a dad, and three teenage daughters. The girls and their mom are each holding a bouquet of roses. We are wondering what the story is. Whom are they expecting? The dad keeps looking at his watch. The mom keeps turning her head to make sure she hears each airport announcement. Finally, the door opens. First come the "rushers"--men and women in suits with briefcases and bags over their shoulders, rushing towards phones, bathrooms, and their cars or rent-a-cars. We're still wondering and watching to learn whom this family we've been studying is there to meet. Then out come a young Marine, his wife, and their obviously brand-new baby. The three girls run to the couple and the baby. Then Mom. Dad. Hugs. Kisses. Embraces. "OOPS! The flowers!" But the baby is the center of attention. Each member of the family gets closer and closer to the mother and each opens the bundle in pink to have a first peek at this new life on the planet. We're seeing it from a distance. It's better than the evening news. Then we notice several other smiling people also watching the same scene. There are many other hugging scenes, people meeting people, but this is the big one. We're smiling too. A tear of joy. -- What wonderful moment we are photographing into our memory. We're thinking, "Family! Children! Grandchildren!" This is what life is all about. We're experiencing an epiphany. Life is filled with them. Praise God! (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) O Henrys story of real love through sacrificial sharing: Gift of the Magi:   The story is about about a young couple who were poor. She had long beautiful, brown hair and used to look longingly at some tortoise-shell combs in the shop window. He had an old pocket watch that belonged to his grandfather. He used to look at a gold watch chain that would have gone well with the watch, in the shop window. But they were poor newlyweds and window shopping was all they could afford. That Christmas she cut and sold her beautiful hair to a wig maker so that she could buy her husband the gold watch chain. He, meanwhile, pawned his prized watch to buy her the beautiful tortoise-shell combs. Each gave up what they most prized to buy something the other wanted. (summarized by Fr. Peter DeSousa). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) The true epiphany: A rabbi put the following question to his disciples, "How can we determine the hour of dawn, when the night ends and the day begins?" One student replied, "When from a distance you can distinguish between a sheep and a dog." "No," said the rabbi. Another student quickly offered, "When you can tell a fig tree from a grapevine." "No," repeated the rabbi. "Then tell us, please," asked the students. Replied the rabbi, "Darkness ends and day begins when you can look into the faces of all other human beings, and you have enough Light in you to recognize them as your brothers and sisters." (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).


9) Run away to return: John Thomas Randolph offers this modern story of running and returning to illustrate our Lord's circumstances. Here is the difference between cowardice and heroism. The coward runs away and stays away. The hero runs away but he always returns at the appropriate time. I have a biography of General Douglas MacArthur that was written by Bob Considine. The picture on the front cover shows the general standing like a boulder, looking off into the distance, with that famous corncob pipe in his mouth. You can almost hear him telling the people of the Philippines, "I came through and I shall return." Ordered to make a strategic withdrawal, his promise to return became the rallying cry for a whole country. MacArthur had to "run away" for a while, but he would "return" and it was the returning that mattered most. -- Jesus ran away into Egypt, but he returned! All of our running away, as Christians, should be with the ultimate goal of returning. Why do we run away? When I look at my own experience, I find that I usually run away for one of three reasons: I am frightened ; I am fatigued; or I am frustrated. Isn't that why you run away too? (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) "I hope it will identify me with the Gospel that I preach." In October 1989, a new star was added to the 1900 stars on the famed sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard. The new star was placed near the stars of Julie Andrews and Wayne Newton. The new star, as curious as it seems, was the late evangelist Billy Graham, (died February 21, 2018), who preached the Gospel to more than 100 million people around the world. Forty years earlier, he refused to have his name on a star, but he reconsidered in 1989. He said, "I hope it will identify me with the Gospel that I preach." At the unveiling he added, "We should put our eyes on the Star, which is the Lord." (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) Epiphany of a protecting God: The British express train raced through the night, its powerful headlight piercing the darkness. Queen Victoria was a passenger on the train. Suddenly the engineer saw a startling sight. Revealed in the beam of the engines light was a strange figure in a black cloak standing in the middle of the tracks and waving its arms. The engineer grabbed for the brake and brought the train to a grinding halt. He and his fellow trainmen clambered down to see what had stopped them. But they could find no trace of the strange figure. On a hunch the engineer walked a few yards further up the tracks. Suddenly he stopped and stared into the fog in horror. A bridge had been washed out in the middle and ahead of them it had toppled into a swollen stream. If the engineer had not heeded the ghostly figure, his train would have plummeted down into the stream. While the bridge and tracks were being repaired, the crew made a more intensive search for the strange flagman. But not until they got to London did they solve the mystery. At the base of the engines head lamp the engineer discovered a huge dead moth. He looked at it a moment, then on impulse wet its wings and pasted it to the glass of the lamp. Climbing back in to his cab, he switched on the light and saw again the flagman he had seen in the beam, seconds before the train was due to reach the washed-out bridge. In the fog, it appeared to be a phantom figure, waving its arms. When Queen Victoria was told of the strange happening she said, Im sure it was no accident. It was Gods way of protecting us.” --  No, the figure the engineer saw in the headlights beam was not an angeland yet God, quite possibly through the ministry of His unseen angels, had placed the moth on the headlight lens exactly when and where it was needed. (Billy Graham fromUnto the Hills) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).


12) The Star: In Arthur C. Clarkes short story, The Star, we read about a Jesuit astrophysicist who makes a space trip with other scientists to a distant galaxy called the Phoenix Nebula. There they chance upon a solitary planet still orbiting the remnant of a central sun, which had exploded thousands of years ago. The explorers land their spacecraft on this planet and examine the scorched surface caused by that cosmic detonation. They discover a melted-down monolithic marker at the entrance of a great vault in which they find the carefully stored treasures and records of an advanced civilization. On their return trip to earth in our own galaxy, the Jesuit astrophysicist calculates the exact time when the light from this cosmic explosion in the Phoenix Nebula reached earth. It was the date of Christs birth when the light from that fire was seen as a bright new star appearing in the East.  But now that he had solved an ancient mystery, he had a greater mystery to grapple with. How could a loving God allow a whole planet of intelligent being to be given a galactic conflagration, so that the symbol of their passing might shine above Bethlehem at his Sons birth? -- This science-fiction story about the star of Bethlehem has its source in todays Gospel. Mathews narration of the Magi uses the star as its central symbol. From its rising in the East to its coming to a standstill over Bethlehem, the star leads and guides the astrologers. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).


13) The night the stars fell: One summer night in a seaside cottage, a small boy felt himself lifted from bed. Dazed with sleep, he heard his mother murmur about the lateness of the hour, heard his father laugh. Then he was borne in his father’s arms, with the swiftness of a dream, down the porch steps, out onto the beach. Overhead the sky blazed with stars. “Watch!” his father said. And incredibly, as he spoke, one of the stars moved. In a streak of golden fire, it flashed across the astonished heavens. And before the wonder of this could fade, another star leaped from its place, and then another, plunging toward the restless sea. “What is it?” the child whispered. “Shooting stars,” his father said. “They come every year on certain nights in August. I thought you’d like to see the show.” That was all: just an unexpected glimpse of something haunting and mysterious and beautiful. But, back in bed, the child stared for a long time into the dark, rapt with the knowledge that all around the quiet house the night was full of the silent music of the falling stars. -- Decades have passed, but I remember that night still, because I was the fortunate seven-year-old whose father believed that a new experience was more important for a small boy than an unbroken night’s sleep. No doubt in my childhood I had the usual quota of playthings, but these are forgotten now. What I remember is the night the stars fell …(Arthur Gordon from A Touch of Wonder). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) A new Magi story: In this story the three wise men, Gaspar, Balthassar and Melchior, were three different ages.  Gaspar was a young man, Balthassar a middle-aged man and Melchior an elderly man.  They found a cave where the Holy One was and entered, one at a time, to do Him homage.  Melchior, the old man, entered first.  He found an old man like himself in the cave.  They shared stories and spoke of memory and gratitude.  Middle-aged Balthassar entered next.  He found a man his own age there.  They spoke passionately about leadership and responsibility.  Young Gaspar was the last to enter.  He found a young prophet waiting for him.  They spoke about reform and promise.  Afterward when the three kings spoke to each other about their encounter with the Christ, they were shocked at each others stories.  So they got their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh together and all three went into the cave.  They found a Baby there, the infant Jesus only twelve days old. --  There is a deep message here.  Jesus reveals himself to all people, at all stages of their lives, whether they are Jew or Gentile. (Fr. Pellegrino). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) The whispering angel: The seventeenth century painter Guido Reni has left us a magnificent painting of Matthew. An angel is whispering to him various events in the life of Jesus. The attentive Evangelist is frantically writing down all that he is told. The tale will become his Gospel. -- A portion of those whispers is today's story of the Epiphany. It is only Matthew who tells us this tale filled with wonder. Why the other Evangelists ignored this magical story, we will never know - at least this side of the grave. (Fr. Gilhooly). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) The Star of Bethlehem: Gordon Wilson's daughter was killed by a bomb in Enniskillen on Remembrance Day 1987. Instead of calling for revenge, he forgave her killers and began a campaign for peace and reconciliation. He said: "I am a very ordinary sort of man. I have few personal ambitions and no political aspirations. I just want to live and let live. Life has been kind to me in the main, and I have tried to live by the Good Book. I do not profess to be a good man, but I aim to be. I would like to leave the world a better place than I found it, but I have no exaggerated ideas of my ability to do so. I have hitched my wagon to a star, a star of hope, the star of Bethlehem. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) The New Age: Every year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, there is displayed, beneath the great Christmas tree, a beautiful eighteenth century Neapolitan nativity scene. In many ways it is a very familiar scene. The usual characters are all there: shepherds roused from sleep by the voices of angels; the exotic wise men from the East seeking, as Auden once put it, "how to be human now"; Joseph; Mary; the Babe -- all are there, each figure an artistic marvel of wood, clay, and paint. There is, however, something surprising about this scene, something unexpected here, easily missed by the causal observer. What is strange here is that the stable, and the shepherds, and the cradle are set, not in the expected small town of Bethlehem, but among the ruins of mighty Roman columns. The fragile manger is surrounded by broken and decaying columns. -- The artists knew the meaning of this event: The Gospel, the birth of God's new age, was also the death of the old world. Herods know in their souls what we perhaps have passed over too lightly: God's presence in the world means finally the end of their own power. They seek not to preserve the birth of God's new age, but to crush it. For Herod, the Gospel is news too bad to be endured, for Mary, Joseph, and all the other characters it is news too good to miss. (Adapted from Thomas G. Long, Something Is About To Happen,” quoted by Fr. Kayala). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Epiphany gift: Tolstoy once told the story about an old cobbler, Martin, who dreamt that Christ was going to visit him. All day he waited and watched but nothing extraordinary seemed to be happening. While he waited, he gave hospitality to one person who was cold, to another who needed reconciliation, to another who needed clothing. At the end of the day, he was disappointed that Christ had not come. That night he had another dream, and all those to whom he gave hospitality returned and a Voice said, Martin, do you not know me? I am Jesus. What you did to the least of these you did to me.” (Fr. Kayala) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Returning Social Security check: They tell of a man in a small town in South Dakota who tried to give some money back to the Social Security Administration, but could not. At age 65 the man retired from his work as a farm laborer and moved into town. His retirement house was extremely modest, sparsely furnished, and simply kept. Most could not manage on his meagre minimum  Social Security check. At the end of the first month of collecting on Social Security, this humble man went to the bank with five dollars in cash and told the teller he wanted to return some money because the government had given him more than he needed. With that request he blew everybody in the bank away.They explained to him that he couldnt do that, that the government could give out Social Security funds, but that there was no program set-up for taking any of it back! There was no category for people who wanted to give any of their Social Security back to the government.  -- Application: To receive something graciously from another is as much a gift as giving. (Gerard Fuller in Stories for all Seasons) (Fr. Kayala). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Epiphany under water: There was once a holy monk who lived in Egypt. One day a young man came to visit him. The young man asked: "Oh, holy man, I want to know how to find God." The monk was muscular and burly. He said: "Do you really want to find God?" The young man answered: "Oh, but I do." So the monk took the young man down to the river. Suddenly, the monk grabbed the young man by the neck and held his head under water. At first the young man thought the monk was giving him a special baptism. But when after one minute the monk didnt let go, the young man began struggling. Still the monk wouldnt release him. Second by second, the young man fought harder and harder. After three minutes, the monk pulled the young man out of the water and said: "When you desire God as much as you desired air, you will have the epiphany of God." (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Herod and Stalin - pride leading to destruction: Why did Herod try to destroy Jesus, but the Magi worshipped him? The difference can be summed up in one word: humility. The Magi had humility, Herod lacked it. And history tells us where that lack of humility landed him. Herod spent his life trying to keep everything under his control. He became pathologically suspicious. He murdered his mother-in-law, wife, two brothers-in-law and three sons  because he thought they were plotting against him. In fact, his whole life was a series of violent, horrible crimes. His tyrannical fear of losing control eventually made him universally hated, even by his closest collaborators. As he lay dying, he ordered a thousand of his best servants and ministers to be led into a stadium and slaughtered, because he wanted to be sure there was mourning and sadness in his kingdom upon his death. Joseph Stalin, the equally bloody tyrant of early Soviet Russia, followed a similar path. He climbed the ladder of success by lying, double-crossing, and murdering. And once he had reached the top, he systematically eliminated all potential rivals. But soon he began to think everyone was a potential rival. He sent his best friends to concentration camps in Siberia. He became so suspicious of plots against his life that he slept in a different corner of his house every night. He, too, died fearful, miserable, and half-crazed. -- These extreme examples illustrate the all-important fact that we are not God. God is God. We are not meant to control everything; we are meant to  follow  Christ humbly, to trust him, to kneel before him, like the Magi, and say with our lives, "Thy will be done, not mine; thy Kingdom come; not mine." Herod couldn't say that, Stalin couldn't say that - the Magi could. They gave everything over to Christ. And they went home full of joy.  (E- Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) God who guided the magi guides us, too, provided we trust Him:  We really need to let this truth sink in. It's like the story of the rock climber. He was in the mountains, climbing alone (a bad idea). And it was getting late. The sun had just gone down, and the temperature was dropping fast. He was descending a section of rock that was inclined beyond the vertical, like the inside of a steep roof. He was deep in the shadows of cliffs. Suddenly, he slipped, lost his grip, and did a free fall of about forty feet before his rope caught on the last stay he had driven into the rock. He was hanging like a spider on a strand of web. He tried to climb up the rope, but at the end of the long day, he just didn't have the strength. He was hanging there in the void. It was dark. It was cold. He had nowhere to turn. So even though he wasn't a Church-going man, he said a prayer: "God, if you're up there, please help me." Much to his surprise, he heard an answer. It said, "Cut your rope." He was surprised and overjoyed to get an answer, but he didn't like the answer he got. He looked below him. Only darkness. It was getting colder. He prayed again, "God, if that's really You, please help me." Again, he heard an answer, "It really is Me. Cut your rope. Trust Me." He looked down again. It was getting colder. He couldn't understand why God wanted him to cut his only support. He took out his knife. But he just couldn't get himself to cut the rope. The next morning in the bright sunlight, a group of rock climbers found him hanging from his rope, frozen to death, ten feet above the ground. -- So many times, we are at the end of our rope, and we need the help of Someone we can trust - Someone who is faithful, like God. He won't always explain everything to us, because we simply can't understand it all;  our eyesight is limited. But when we hear His voice in our conscience, we know that the One Who is All-Good and All-Powerful is faithfully guiding us, as He guided the Wise Men, and He won't leave us hanging - if we believe in Him. (E- Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) “Change your name or change your conduct!”: Alexander the Great, one of the most remarkable military leaders who ever lived, conquered almost the entire known world with a relatively small army. One night during a campaign, he couldn't sleep and left his tent to walk around the camp. He came across a soldier asleep on guard duty - a serious offense. The penalty for falling asleep on guard duty was, in some cases, instant death: the commanding officer sometimes poured kerosene on the sleeping soldier and lit it. The soldier began to wake up as Alexander the Great approached him. Recognizing who was standing in front of him, the young man feared for his life. "Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?" Alexander the Great asked the soldier. "Yes, sir," the soldier responded in a quivering voice. "Soldier, what's your name?" demanded Alexander the Great. "Alexander, sir." Alexander the Great repeated the question: "What is your name?" "My name is Alexander, sir," the soldier repeated. A third time and more loudly Alexander the Great asked, "What is your name?" A third time the soldier meekly said, "My name is Alexander, sir." Alexander the Great then looked the young soldier straight in the eye. "Soldier," he said with intensity, "either change your name or change your conduct!" -- We Christians who carry the name of Christ shouldn't be afraid of following Christ - as Herod was. We should be glad to live up to our name, following Christ wherever he leads us - like the Magi. (From "Hot Illustrations") E- Priest.. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) Conquer by this sign: The Battle of Milvian Bridge was fought between Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius AD 312. On the evening of October 27, with the armies preparing for battle, Constantine had a vision. A most marvellous sign appeared to him from Heaven,  a cross of light, with the inscription, “In this sign, you shall conquer”(In hoc signmum vinces). At this sight, he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle. Constantine delineated the sign on the shields of his soldiers as he had been instructed to do in a dream, and proceeded to battle, and his troops stood to arms. Maxentius was defeated in the battle, and Constantine was acknowledged as emperor by the senate and people of Rome. Constantine’s victory brought relief to the Christians by ending persecution. 

(Richard Cavendish, “The Battle of the Milvian Bridge” History Today, vol. 62, # 10, (October 2012); [www.historytoday.com/archive/battle-milvian-bridge] -- 300 years before Constantine, God’s sign appeared on the sky as a luminous star. It announced the Good News that a Saviour was born to emancipate humanity from the clutches of evil. This sign was read by the wise men. It led the wise men to Bethlehem. (Fr. Bobby). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).


25) “The light she lit in my life is still burning.” Mother Teresa once visited a poor man in Melbourne, Australia. He was living in a basement room, which was in a terrible state of neglect. There was no light in the room. He did not seem to have a friend in the world. She started to clean and tidy the room. At first he protested, “Leave it alone. It is all right as it is.” But she went ahead anyway. As she cleaned, she chatted with him. Under a pile of rubbish she found an oil lamp covered with dust. She cleaned it and discovered that it was beautiful. And she said to him, “You have got a beautiful lamp here. How she said to him, “You have got a beautiful lamp here. How come you never lighted it?” “Why should I light it?” “No one ever comes to see me.” Will you promise to light it if one of my sisters comes to see you?” “Yes,” he replied. “If I hear a human voice, I will light the lamp.” Two of Mother Teresa’s Sisters began to visit him regularly. Things gradually improved for him. Every time the Sisters came to visit him, he had the lamp lighted. Then one day he said to them: “Sisters, I will be able to manage myself from now on. Do me a favour. Tell the first Sister who came to see me that the light she lit in my life is still burning.” -- The light that God lit to announce the coming of His son is still burning. The Magi followed the path of the great light and reached the cradle of Jesus. For the last twenty centuries many have followed the footprints of the Magi. Today, Jesus stands before us declaring, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” (Jn 8:12).  (M K Paul; quoted by Fr. Bobby). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).


26) Gentiles … Jews, Sharers of the Promise: In the second reading of today’s Feast of the Epiphany, St. Paul reveals God’s sacred plan: to unite and save in Christ’s Mystical Body, both Gentiles and Jews. Usually, we think of Jews and Gentiles as incapable of merging. God intended quite otherwise. Edith Stein exemplifies that intention. Edith Stein was born to devout Jewish parents at Wroclaw, Poland in 1891. As an adolescent she lost her Faith in God, but gradually recovered it when she began to study philosophy. Eventually, after reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, she sought Baptism as a Catholic in 1922. Having finished her graduate studies, Edith took up teaching. Her brilliant conferences won her considerable note. In 1932 the Education Institute of Muenster, Germany engaged her as a regular lecturer in its philosophy department. Edith lost this position after only a year, however. In 1933 Nazi Germany enacted laws to exclude from professional positions men and women of Jewish birth. She was not too disappointed. Now, at least, she felt free to take a step she had long contemplated and became a cloistered Carmelite nun. As Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she continued to write important books on philosophy and spirituality. When the Nazis intensified their persecution of the Jews in 1938, Sister Teresa, for safety’s sake, was sent to a monastery in Holland. But early in World War II the Nazis overran Holland as well. In a circular letter of 1942, the Holland Catholic bishops denounced the introduction there of the Nazi purge of Jews. Hitler’s response was typical. In reprisal for the protest, he arrested and sent to Auschwitz a number of priests and nuns in Holland who were of Jewish blood. Sister Teresa Stein was one of the prisoners. She was gassed to death at Auschwitz that same August. -- In her person, both Jew and Gentile were called into the happier Kingdom of God’s promise. -Father Robert F. McNamara (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).


27) “Down Will Come Baby.” Some years ago I saw a play called “Down Will Come Baby.” As the play opens, the husband is taking down the Christmas tree. Among the things that have been hanging on the tree, there is a model of the Christ child in the manger. Apparently, they had been given out at church, and almost everyone in the parish had one on their tree. The husband says, “I’ll be sorry to see this go” holding up the model crib. “Can’t we keep Him?” says the wife. “No,” says the husband, “I’ll put Him out when I throw out the tree, the garbage man will collect Him. On the day after Christmas, you’ll see models of the crib lying all over the place, inside, outside.” The wife is shocked, but the husband says, “It has to be done; the Baby is where He belongs, thrown out with the Christmas cards and carols.” The wife becomes increasingly disturbed as the husband continues, “Everybody loves a baby, with its big eyes and all the cute things it does. But when He grows up, it is different: His eyes look through us and watch our thinking. His hands stretch out to make us care. His lips tell us what we are. Then we would have to live like real people: that is more than we can bear.” -- The idea for some people is to keep the baby Jesus from becoming Christ the Lord. And that idea is not really new, King Herod had it first. Herod could not stand competition, he could not stand to face what the child might grow up to be, so he told the three wise men to let him know where the child was so he could kill him. (Fr. Bob Warren). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

28) Three modern wise men: I have a favorite story for adults for the Epiphany. Not the Gift of the Magi or the Fourth Wise Man, stories I love telling the children, but the story developed from an essay by the famous English author of a hundred years ago, G. K. Chesterton. G. K. Chesterton, wrote a wonderful essay on three modern wise men. These three heard that there was a city of peace, a city where there would never be wars or disturbances. The men wanted to live in that city, but to do so, they had to past a test. They had to present themselves at the gates of the city with gifts to demonstrating that they belonged there because they were men who would ensure the continual peace of the city. So they journeyed to this wondrous city with what, they were sure, would be gifts that would guarantee peace and earn them admission into the city. When they got to the gates of the city, St. Joseph was there to judge their gifts. The first modern wise man brought gold. He suggested that money was the root of all wars. With the gold that he bought, people could buy all the pleasures of the world and have no need to fight. He was convinced that gold would bring peace. The second modern wise man did not bring frankincense. He brought chemistry. He brought modern science. With his science he could drug the minds of people into a state of perpetual bliss. With his chemistry, he could seed the soil and control the population. People would then have all that they would need so they would never go to war again. The story was developed to present the third modern wise man bringing a split atom, a new myrrh, a new symbol of death. His message was that anyone who opposed the way of peace would face death. This wise man was the father of nuclear deterrence. After they showed him their gifts, St. Joseph refused to let any of them enter. "What more could we have brought to demonstrate that we are men of peace?" they protested. "We carry with us means to provide affluence, control nature, and destroy enemies." St. Joseph whispered something into the ear of each man. Then they turned and went away with heavy hearts. -- Do you know what St. Joseph told each of them? He told them that they had forgotten the Child. This might all seem good, but we have forgotten the Child. Peace only comes through the Prince of Peace. Men cannot create peace apart from God.(Msgr. Joe Pellegrino). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

29) Christ avoided crucifixion and ended up on Japanese shores: I read recently a most startling report from Japan. Did you know that there is a village in Japan where local lore says that Jesus escaped the Romans 2,000 years ago, eventually settling in northern Japan until he died at age 106. Two 13-foot crosses marked his reputed grave and that of his supposed brother for nearly four decades until one morning last year, when somebody cut them down with a saw. Local officials are calling the vandalism a "malicious prank," and police are pursuing it as a case of property damage. The local tradition about Jesus springs from an ancient scroll said to have been found in a temple in the 1930s. Believers say Jesus wrote it after he arrived in Japan following a life of adventure. The text recounts how Christ avoided crucifixion and ended up on Japanese shores. According to the legend, he married a woman named Miyuko and had three daughters. Some 100,000 tourists visit the graves each year, leaving change or fruit because the ground is believed to have magical healing powers. Village authorities have turned the grave site into a park with an enormous billboard that says "Shingo: Hometown of Christ." Until recently, Shingo residents painted crosses on the foreheads of newborn babies in the hope that it would bring good luck from Christ. Japan is notoriously ambivalent about religion. Rites to appease the spirits of dead relatives are everyday affairs, but most Japanese don't find it necessary to adhere to one religion in particular. Many families hold Shinto marriages and Buddhist funerals. -- Just when you think you've heard everything, a report surfaces like this one! To set the record straight, the hometown of Jesus was not Shingo, Japan but Nazareth in Galilee. His birthplace was Bethlehem, as foretold by the prophet Micah. We wish we had more information about Jesus' childhood and about Mary and Joseph, but we do not. Nothing certain is known about this family until Jesus is twelve years old, when Mary and Joseph take him to the Temple. No wonder that on the day of Epiphany, we like to take out this one last snapshot of the Holy Family, Mary and Joseph and the young child! It is the last one we will have until the child is nearly grown. (Philip Yancey, The Jesuis I Never Knew). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

30) What was different about these magi? In the year 7 B.C. the planets Jupiter and Saturn appeared very close together in the night sky, casting a bright glow similar to that of a single large star. The following year, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were also closely aligned. Some scholars believe one of these two events produced the bright light in the sky the wise men followed when they came to Bethlehem two thousand years ago. You know the story.  -- What fascinates me is this: hundreds of thousands of other people living in that part of the world saw the same bright light in the sky, but they did not leave their homes to go find the newborn king. What was different about these magi? Vision. First of all, these magi were searching for something that was real--something that would transform their lives. God loves searchers. (Rev. King Duncan). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

31) Destructive journeys in search of stars. So many people are taking destructive journeys in our world today, following so many false stars. A few years back our Air Force built a sophisticated unmanned jet called the Global Hawk. With no pilot aboard, this plane can fly for more than a day, scouring terrain and relaying video to a ground station 3000 miles away. A few years back one of these planes was lost in a freak accident. No, it didn’t crash into a mountain. It didn’t run out of fuel or have one of its parts malfunction. Rather, it committed suicide. It shut its engines down, erased classified material from its computer, set its flaps in a death spiral and smashed at 400 mph into the desert.  Here’s what happened. More than 100 miles away, a team of Air Force personnel were testing a second Global Hawk aircraft. At some time in this test, this team told this second plane to terminate its flight. Unfortunately, the first plane “overheard” this signal from more than 100 miles away and thought it was being ordered to terminate its flight, and it did just that. A forty-five million dollar plane was lost because it listened to the wrong voice. (TIME magazine, 1-24-2000, p. 18). -- There are many journeys we can take in today’s world, many voices we can listen to, many stars that we can follow. But only one leads us into the path of abundant life. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

32) There it is, Epiphany: Leo Buscaglia once told a story that happened while he was a professor at the University of Southern California. He had a student who was brilliant and filled with potential. Joel, however, had lost his meaning and purpose for living. Joel had been brought up in the Jewish faith, but like many young people he had wandered away. God had become a meaningless symbol. He had no motivation to live another day and no one could convince him otherwise. So he prepared to take his own life. On his way, he stopped by Leo’s office. Fortunately, the good doctor was in. The student told Leo that he had lots of money, clothes and cars. He had been accepted at several of the top engineering schools to work on his Master’s degree. He had everything going for him, even good looks. Women circled around him like sharks. Yet he had nothing inside. There was no fire or passion in his belly. He had no vision, no joy, no enthusiasm, no peace, no harmony. Leo said, “Before you take your life, I want you to visit some old people at the Hebrew Home which is adjacent to our campus.” “What for?” the young man countered. Leo said, “You need to understand life through the eyes of your heart.” “The eyes of my heart?” the young man asked. “Yes, you need to experience what it is like to give to those who have lost their connection to a meaningful life. Go to the desk and ask if there are people there who have not been visited for a long time by anyone. You visit them.” “And say what?” the young man asked.“I don’t know,” Leo said, “Tell them anything that will give them hope.”Notice Leo’s strategy--we get back what we give. Leo did not see the student for months. In fact, he largely forgot about him. Then one day during the fall, he saw him coming from a bus with a group of seniors, some of whom were in wheel chairs. Joel had organized a trip to the baseball game with a group of his new senior friends who had not been to a game in years. Leo and Joel chatted for a moment. Just before parting Joel said, “Thanks for helping me find the ‘eyes of my heart.’” Leo nodded and smiled. (http://www.stmatthews-bowie.org/Worship/Sermons/2004/sermon_09_26_04.asp.) -- There it is. Epiphany. Seeing life with new eyes. Vision. Seeing in the world new possibilities. That is what I wish for each of us this day. The magi came searching. Their search took them on a journey of faith. When they found the newborn king they offered him gifts, gifts that represented the best that was in them. This is the kind of vision we need as we begin this new year--a vision to build new lives and a new world. (Rev. Richard E. Stetler). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

33) Stargazers: Charles Kuralt travels across the United States learning about people. Recently he visited the mountains of North Carolina. Kuralt claims that mountain people know a lot of things the rest of us have forgotten. For example, at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve the mountain people he visited open their windows. That's to let bad luck out and good luck in. On New Year's Day they eat black-eyed peas for dinner. That's also for good luck. Don't worry if you forgot. Simply look for a red-haired girl riding on a white mule. That's good luck any time of the year. Another thing mountain people know is that the first twelve days of January correspond to the first twelve months of the year when it comes to predicting weather. Accordingly, if you want to know what the weather will be like in May just look out the window on Wednesday, January 5. "Mountain people know so many things," Kuralt says. It's a wonder, "those of us who don't know them can get along at all." Other examples include: if your nose itches that means company is coming; if a honey bee buzzes around your head that means you're about to find some money; if you need to stop a cut from bleeding just say the sixth verse of the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel while walking toward the sunrise. "Everybody around here knows that," he says. --  I thought you could use some good advice on this first Sunday of a new year. Where do you turn when you want some good advice? (1) Some people look to the stars. I read recently that in Canada, fully 88 percent of the people know their astrological sign and 50 percent read their horoscope at least once a month. Only half as many read the Bible that often. (2) I'm not going to ask you if you read your astrological forecast. Some foolish people live by them. That was true in the ancient world as well. People have always wanted to know what the future holds. 3) Star gazers were very popular at the time of Jesus' birth. They were welcomed by kings. They were respected in the marketplace. Many became quite wealthy. -- The Wise Men from the East were astrologers. But they were also deeply religious. They scanned the heavens nightly looking for some sign from God. One evening a sign appeared, a star they had never seen before. It was bigger than any other star in the heavens. "Could this be the sign we have been looking for?" they wondered. Perhaps if they followed the star it would lead them to the answers they had been seeking. (Rev. King Duncan). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

34) Today they are pumping vast quantities of oil.  There is an interesting story about a director of Standard Oil Company who was reading his Bible one day and came upon Ex 2:3. This is the story of the mother of Moses seeking to hide her child from the Egyptians. She makes a little basket made of  bullrushes, you'll remember. This is how the writer of Exodus describes the process, "...and [she]daubed it with slime and with pitch." The Standard Oil director knew that where there is pitch there is usually oil. So he sent his engineers to work. Today they are pumping vast quantities of oil out of the ground near Moses' home town in Egypt.
-- There are two lessons here, I suppose. One is about reading your Bible. The other is about dropping everything and acting on what you read. (Rev. King Duncan). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

35) "Is he here?" Perhaps you remember the old Russian legend about a woman named Babushka. Like too many of us Babushka was always busy, too busy, a tidy housekeeper, always occupied with the many chores that needed her attention. One evening as she is cleaning her house she hears a commotion out on the street. Looking out her window she sees her neighbors pointing to a star high in the heavens. Off in the distance she sees a caravan approaching.
Babushka is startled to hear a knock at her door. She opens it to find three richly dressed kings. They ask her if they could lodge there overnight. After all, she has the finest house in the whole village. That night they tell Babushka that they are following a star. They invite her to go with them in search of the newborn king. Babushka makes excuses. First she tells them she doesn't have a proper gift. Besides she has to clean up her house before she does anything. As the three kings are leaving she promises to join them the next day after her work is complete. But the kings leave without her.
The next day Babushka cleans her house and finds a proper gift. All of a sudden she has the urgent desire to catch up with these men. They are a full day's journey ahead of her but, she hopes to catch them. Everywhere she asks if people have seen the three kings. Finally she tracks them to the village of Bethlehem. But she is too late. The kings have come and gone. And the baby they were searching for is gone too. Babushka missed the kings and the King of Kings. According to legend she continues her search year after year. In fact many believe that she can still be seen in villages at Christmas time, looking for the Christ Child. "Is he here?" she asks the villagers, "Is he here?" (Wendy M. Wright, The Vigil) -- Follow the star. That's good advice for this first Sunday of a New Year. Carpe Diem " seize the day. Get into action. Don't let life pass you by.

36) Another Road: Let me tell you about another wise man, a wise man of our day, who like the wise men of old, was led by the stars and then lead home by Another Road. From a young age, Hugh Ross was consumed by the study of physics and astronomy. He devoured scientific texts, and found in them a knowledge that excited him. His studies of science and the order of the universe led Hugh to the belief that there had to be a Creator somewhere that set the whole thing in motion. 

As a young man, he began studying the texts of the world's major religions. He measured each one against the known facts of science and history. If there was a Creator, Hugh felt, and if this Creator went to such great lengths to make an orderly universe that could be understood, then such a Creator would want to communicate with His creation in an orderly and truthful manner. Hugh Ross' study of the stars and the planets led him to believe that there was such a God. Hugh Ross found that God in the Bible. But it would be another few months of wrestling with his will before Hugh was ready to humble himself and ask Jesus to be Lord of his life. -- Today, Dr. Hugh Ross has earned degrees in physics and astronomy from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. He is the director of Reasons to Believe, an organization that publicizes the historical and scientific truths of the Bible. Dr. Ross comments, "As an astronomer, I have achieved my ultimate quest: My education led me to the stars; my faith led me beyond." (Dr. Hugh Ross in The Day I Met God) Dr. Ross searched for knowledge; what he found was Truth and it sent him home by Another Road. This morning we're invited to come to Bethlehem, "the house of bread" and to leave by Another Road. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

37) See a star, and follow it: In 1982 a woman named Celeste Tate was shocked by how much good food supermarkets throw away. She persuaded a store manager to donate his expired items to help the less fortunate. She and David McKinley set up shop in a garage. Soon they had built the first Gleaners supermarket for the needy in Las Vegas. The name Gleaners comes from the Old Testament practice of leaving some grain in the fields after harvesting so that the poor may gather it.Today the Las Vegas store serves about 20,000 people a month. There are now 194 stores based on the Gleaners model in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Holland and China. These not-for-profit shops receive food and other perishable goods from supermarkets and big businesses, repackage them and either give them away to the needy or sell them at dramatically reduced prices for those whose budgets are limited. The Department of Health and Human Services has called Gleaners the most outstanding food program in the United States. And it began because one woman was shocked at the waste in our supermarkets.  (Patricia Aburdene and John Naisbitt, Megatrends for Women). -- Nothing happens in this world until someone sees a star and follows it. These three Magi were obviously men of action. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

38) Magi were "Yes, I will" people. Mary Kay Ash, who built Mary Kay cosmetics into a corporate giant, once said this: "If we ever decide to compare knees, you're going to find that I have more scars than anyone else in the room. That's because I've fallen down and gotten up so many times in my life." (Deborah Ford with Edie Hand, The Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life) Those are the people who are successful in the world. People who refuse to give up. People who follow their star regardless of the obstacles. Motivational speaker Earl Nightingale once told the story of an American team of mountain climbers who set out to conquer Mount Everest. Before the team left the U.S. a psychiatrist interviewed them. Each was asked individually, privately, "Will you get to the top of Everest?" There was a wide assortment of answers. "Well, Doc, I'll do my best." "I'm sure going to try." Each knew how formidable was the challenge. But one of them, a slightly built team member, gave a totally different answer. When the psychiatrist asked him the question, he thought for a moment and then quietly answered, "Yes, I will." Not surprisingly, he was the first to make it to the peak of Mt. Everest. Nightingale comments: "Yes, I will--three of the most potent words in our language. Whether spoken quietly, loudly, or silently, those three words have propelled more people to success and have been responsible for more human achievement than all other words in the English language combined." (Rev. Dan Mangler). -- The Magi were men of action, men of determination. They were "Yes, I will" people. But more than anything else, the three Magi were men of faith. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/). L-23

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No 10) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit also https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under Fr. Tony’s homilies and  under Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in  for other website versions (Vatican Radio website: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html uploaded my Cycle A, B and C homilies in from 2018-2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 .