Welcome, Bishop Hurley, to Saint John Paul II Parish! It is an honor and a privilege to have you celebrate Mass for and with us on this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Please be assured of our continued prayers for you, our Apostolic Administrator, during this time of transition within the Diocese of Saginaw.
Today’s Gospel passage from Matthew relates the familiar story of the magi from the east, traveling to pay homage to the “newborn king of the Jews.” Magi is a word designating the Persian priestly caste of individuals. The magi come bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Their gifts are symbolic; in ancient times, these kinds of gifts were given to kings or divinities. Gold represents kingship, frankincense is a perfume scented incense, and myrrh is a costly balm or ointment. These gifts reveal the nature of Jesus to us: Jesus is King, Jesus is God, and Jesus is man. Gold is a gift befitting a king. Frankincense is a precious incense burned at the temple as a sign of the presence of God. Myrrh is mentioned in the Passion Narratives. It was offered to Jesus on the cross mixed with wine (but he refused to drink it). Myrrh is also among the perfumes and spices that Nicodemus brings to prepare the body of Jesus for burial. The word epiphany means manifestation. Today we celebrate the manifestation of the humanity, divinity, and kingship of Jesus along with his mission of coming into the world for all people, Gentile and Jew alike. The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord reminds us that we are called to manifest Christ in our lives so that others may see, hear, and realize the Good News of salvation through their encounters with us. May they experience the love, compassion, and mercy of God, and the light of Christ, through our words and deeds. Today, we come to Eucharist, offering the gift of ourselves, with Christ, who offers himself to the Father in the great prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving in which we receive the greatest gift Christ has left us, the gift of himself. Let us go forth this day in gratitude, keeping ever-open to the many ways in which Christ continues to manifest himself to us.
Blessings on your Christmas Season!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ