Saturday, January 07, 2006

Epiphay 2015


528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. 212 In the magi, representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. 213 Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. 214 The Epiphany shows that "the full number of the nations" now takes its "place in the family of the patriarchs", and acquires Israelitica dignitas 215(is made "worthy of the heritage of Israel").

The Star represents the search for Truth and the meaning of human existence through man’s created ontological tendency. It takes the Magi to Jerusalem where the star disappears. They  go, logically, to Herod as king of the Jews, who sends them to the Scribes as experts in the Revelation contained in Scripture. The Scribes send them to Bethlehem, but they, the Scribes who have expert conceptual knowledge of the birthplace of the Messiah, do not go. The Magi go, and find the God-man hidden in the humanity of a child. They receive the Revelation and make the gift of themselves in the form of giving the best that they have with them: gold, incense and myrrh.

Ratzinger comments: “In this text, we can see how the Catechism views the relationship between Jews and the nations of the world as communicated by Jesus; in addition, it offers at the same time a first presentation of the mission of Jesus. Accordingly, we say that the mission of Jesus is to unite Jews and pagans into a single People of God in which the universalist promises of the Scriptures are fulfilled that speak again and again of the nations worshiping the God of Israel…. In order to present this unification of Israel, and the nations, the brief text – still interpreting Matthew 2 [the Magi] - gives a lesson on the relationship of the world religions, the faith of Israel, and the mission of Jesus: the world religions can become the star that enlightens men’s path that leads them in search of the kingdom of God. The star of the religions points to Jerusalem, it is extinguished and lights up anew in the Word of God, in the Sacred Scripture of Israel. The Word of God preserved herein shows itself to be the true star without which, or bypassing which, the goal cannot found.”“What does all this mean? The mission of Jesus consists in bringing together the histories of the nations in the community of the history of Abraham, the history of Israel…. The history of Israel should become the history of all, Abraham’s sonship is to be extended to the `many.’ This course of events has two aspects to it: the nations can enter into the community of the promises of Israel in entering into the community of the one God, who now becomes and must become the way of all because there is only one God and because his will is therefore truth for all. Conversely, this means that all nations, without the abolishment of the special omission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the chosen People; the become People of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic kingdom.”[8]
  Jesus Christ is the Meaning of “Man.” The Source for the Universal Truth “Person” Originates in the Experience Self as Gift in Secular Work (= Prayer).

This is derived from an understanding of how human nature was assumed by the divine Person as “his.” The human will does not will in Jesus Christ. He (divine Person) wills with “his” human will. It is a divine Person willing with a human will. That is, He wills as a divine Person wills, but it is humanly. Therefore, the freedom of self-giving that is the meaning of freedom is enhanced and becomes truly itself as image of God, not annulled, in Christ’s human will. So also, the experience of what it means to be “person,” the truth of human personhood, can only be found in the experience of Christ that is self-expropriation (gift).

Consider the case of the three wise men who have left their land, their power and their time to follow the star to the obscure stable in which they are confronted by a child, a young mother, a carpenter, shepherds and animals.
 Benedict asks: “How was this possible? What convinced the Magi that the Child was ‘the King of the Jews’ and the King of the peoples? There is no doubt that they were persuaded by the sign of the star that they had seen ‘in its rising’ and which had come to rest precisely over the place where the Child was found (cf. Mt. 2, 9). But even the star would not have sufficed had the Magi not been people inwardly open to the truth.”[9]

The conditions of being able to re-cognize the Child in the child are purity and detachment, whereby the self is dispossessed and liberated from itself. Only then can there be the experience and the cognizing in self of that tiny sensible figure who is then re-cognized as Creator of the world hidden in his creation.

Benedict XVI

“… In Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God himself became man. To him the Father says: `You are my son.' God's everlasting "today" has come down into the fleeting today of the world and lifted our momentary today into God's eternal today. God is so great that he can become small. God is so powerful that he can make himself vulnerable and come to us as a defenseless child, so that we can love him. God is so good that he can give up his divine splendor and come down to a stable, so that we might find him, so that his goodness might touch us, give itself to us and continue to work through us. This is Christmas: `You are my son, this day I have begotten you.' God has become one of us, so that we can be with him and become like him. As a sign, he chose the Child lying in the manger: This is how God is. This is how we come to know him. And on every child shines something of the splendor of that "today," of that closeness of God which we ought to love and to which we must yield -- it shines on every child, even on those still unborn.”

Benedict then explains the Epiphany in this light:

“Let us listen to a second phrase from the liturgy of this holy night, one taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah: "Upon the people who walked in darkness a great light has shone" (Isaiah 9:1). The word "light" pervades the entire liturgy of tonight's Mass. It is found again in the passage drawn from St. Paul's letter to Titus: "The grace of God has appeared" (2:11). The expression "has appeared," in the original Greek says the same thing that was expressed in Hebrew by the words "a light has shone": this "apparition" -- this "epiphany" -- is the breaking of God's light upon a world full of darkness and unsolved problems. The Gospel then relates that the glory of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and "shone around them" (Luke 2:9). Wherever God's glory appears, light spreads throughout the world. St. John tells us that "God is light and in him is no darkness" (1 John 1:5). The light is a source of life. But first, light means knowledge; it means truth, as contrasted with the darkness of falsehood and ignorance. Light gives us life, it shows us the way. But light, as a source of heat, also means love. Where there is love, light shines forth in the world; where there is hatred, the world remains in darkness. In the stable of Bethlehem there appeared the great light which the world awaits. In that Child lying in the stable, God has shown his glory -- the glory of love, which gives itself away, stripping itself of all grandeur in order to guide us along the way of love. The light of Bethlehem has never been extinguished. In every age it has touched men and women, "it has shone around them."
“Wherever people put their faith in that Child, charity also sprang up -- charity toward others, loving concern for the weak and the suffering, the grace of forgiveness. From Bethlehem a stream of light, love and truth spreads through the centuries. If we look to the saints -- from Paul and Augustine to Francis and Dominic, from Francis Xavier and Teresa of Avila to Mother Teresa of Calcutta -- we see this flood of goodness, this path of light kindled ever anew by the mystery of Bethlehem, by that God who became a Child. In that Child, God countered the violence of this world with his own goodness. He calls us to follow that Child.”

The Epiphany of the Wise Men fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah the Prophet: “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! You light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth… Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance…. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses." (Isaiah 60, 1-4).
The Universal Reach of the Promise (Beyond Covenant) to Abram: Not Just Jews But All Nations:

What does it mean? A promise had been made to the holy patriarch Abraham in regard to these nations. He was to have a countless progeny, born not from his body but from the seed of faith. His descendants are therefore compared with the array of the stars. The father of all nations was to hope not in an earthly progeny but in a progeny from above.

“Let the full number of the nations now take their place in the family of the patriarchs. Let the children of the promise now receive the blessing in the seed of Abraham, the blessing renounced by the children of his flesh. In the persons of the Magi let all people adore the Creator of the universe; let God be known, not in Judea only, but in the whole world, so that his name may be great in all Israel."

The King of kings and Lord of lords lies in a manger. “Lord, where is your kingship, your crown, your sword, your scepter? They are his by right, but he does not want them. He reigns wrapped in swaddling clothes. Our king is unadorned. He comes to us as a defenseless little child. Can we help but recall the words of the Apostle: `He emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave’?”[1]

The Meaning of the Feast: Jesus Christ, the Absolute Being, God, and King of all creation, is camouflaged in the flesh and poverty of an infant. Like is known by like. Only by lowering self to experience the self-giving that is the kenosis of the Logos, can one re-cognize Him who is pure self gift to the Father. The faith of Abraham and the true sons of Israel that is this self kenosis must be learned by all nations. The lowering of self can only be recognized by the lowering of self. The Wise Men did it. They represent all the gentile nations. In other words, one must become another Christ, a vulnerable and defenseless child, in the self gift of obedience that is faith, in order to have the "cognizing" that is consciousness of being another Christ, so that one become able to "re-cognize" Him in the ordinary events of secular life where He awaits us now. The lowering of the self in the acceptance of mercy is the task of this year of mercy.

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