|The Epiphany from the ceiling of Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral Philadelphia.|
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way. (From Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Matthew, verses 1--12) This Scriptural glance at the three Wise Men is tantalizing. Many images come to mind: dark skinned regal personages; camels and their drivers; glistening gold, scented frankincense, myrrh. Many commentators on this passage tell us that there may have been four Wise Men. The Gospel gives no exact number, Tradition calls the Kings or Wise Men: Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. Certain Christian cultures invite the priest to come into their homes on the Eiphany and bestow a blessing. With chalk or another marker, the priest places a symbol of each of the three Kings above the doorway of the house. On this feast of the Epiphany let us bring to Jesus the precious gold of our loving recognition of Jesus as King and Savior; the incense of our prayer; and the myrrh of our daily loving sacrifices. On this day of "manifestation" we pray too for all missionaries who strive to make Christ known by their own witness, their works, their prayers and their preaching.