(also known as Three Kings Day, or the Forthshowing)
This has been a strange time, it has. You’ve met angels. You’ve traveled long distances (for back then). You’ve given birth in the barn or garage, with a bunch of animals looking on. You’ve had some local shepherds come by and give the baby their propers. You’re finally in a room, where most anyone who comes by goes googoo blubbering over your baby, as they usually do. But then comes this.
What would you think if foreigners – total strangers – came up to you from seemingly out of nowhere? Rich ones, to be sure — top officials from some nations out east where they go around obeying stars and doing other strange things that a good Jew knows better than to do. It’s not every day that folks in such a splendid wardrobe come to Bethlehem, and when they do they seek the fanciest digs in town to hang out in. So what brings them here? And what is their interest in your baby? To buy him? Steal him? Kill him? To report to Herod about him (and we all know what kind of a wacko Herod can be)? One of them goes into his robe — is he pulling out a… a… knife??
Whew… It’s a container, full of — precious incense! And he’s giving it for your baby !!! And what’s this? Another guy is pulling out of his traveling case… gold ! They’re giving your baby the royal treatment — quite literally — the gifts they give to new kings and heirs to the throne !
Epiphany means the ‘showing forth’ of Jesus for what He really is — the One who is the true and rightful ruler over us. But unlike earthly kings who surround themselves with guards and armies, He chose to leave Himself at our mercy, where we could do Him harm, even kill Him. Just like the rest of us. Even from the very start, as a baby, the risk was there, and it would eventually come through. (That’s what lies behind the third gift, of burial-fragrance). His task was not one that could be done from strength and safety, but only from exposure to danger and death.
Father, let us live by the light you shone through Your Son, that we, like the magi of old, can show Him to all for what He really is. Amen.