The Epiphany by Carravaggio
HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
BISHOP RENE HENRY GRACIDA
In Him was life,
and the life was the Light of men:
and the Light shined in the darkness
and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God,
whose name was John.
This man came for a witness
to give testimony of the Light,
that all men might believe through Him.
He was not the Light,
but was to give testimony of the Light
that was the true Light,
which enlightens every man
that comes into this world.
The Prologue of the Gospel of Saint John
The shepherds in the field guarding their sheep were startled by the light
of the strange new star that appeared in the sky.
The magi, the three kings, were drawn to Bethlehem by this strange new star that appeared in the sky.
The light of the star provided the guidance the shepherds and magi needed to find Him who was the Light of the World.
Men have instinctively recognized a light shining in the darkness as a sign of safety.
Someone lost in a forest at night welcomes a light in the distance as a sign of rescue.
A ship seeking safe harbor at night in a stormy sea steers toward the light flickering from a lighthouse.
God the Father, faithful to the promises made through the prophets over the ages, used a strange star to provide the direction for suffering mankind to be drawn to salvation.
But this was no burning bush they came to see. It was an infant.
Throughout the Old Testament times God chose the weak to confound the strong. David the youngest son of Jesse was chosen by God to be king of Israel, not one of his big brothers.
It was David who slew Goliath, not one Saul’s big warriors.
The epiphany, the appearance of God among men as an infant was just as
deceptive as God’s earlier appearance as a burning bush. But the light that accompanied His appearance was the light of Christ Himself. He manifested His light as from a star, but later after he began his public ministry His light began to shine in the Gospel that he preached.
This is the light that Saint John speaks of in the prologue to his Gospel. That is the light that illumines every man who comes into this world. A man has only to open the eyes of his soul to be able to see Christ.
Now perhaps you see a little more clearly what He meant when He said that He came into the world so that those who say that they see would become blind and those who
confessed that they did not see would be enable to see.
Of what benefit is your celebration of this Solemnity of the Epiphany of Jesus Christ if you do not open your eyes and by the grace given by the Holy Spirit see your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, more clearly.
Your eyes will grow accustomed to seeing Jesus Christ if you cultivate pious devotions such as participating in a holy hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar, or praying before a reproduction of the Holy Face, or before a crucifix.
Gaze intently on the Host or on the Holy Face or on the figure of Our Lord on the cross and then close your eyes and with
the light of Christ illumining the eyes of your soul see your Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
The Epiphany we celebrate in today’s Mass, the appearance of God in human
flesh, should be the first of countless epiphanies of Jesus Christ in your eyes and the eyes of all believers, through the light of Christ.
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!
Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the Lord shines,
and over you appears his glory.
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.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.