Saturday, 7 January 2017

Epiphany and the Culture of Disenchantment

EPIPHANY – Year A   January, 2017
The Catholic Parish of St. Thomas More, TORONTO

“. . . the mystery of Christ was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed . . .”  Ephesians 3: 5

Rising stars and lights of splendor reveal the mystery in the face of the child born at Christmas.  Jesus appears as the promised Messiah – Emmanuel, God become human, in order to accompany us on the journey of life and to save us.
We hear these words and this story in a society that has been conditioned by a “Culture of Disenchantment.”  Secular Western culture today seeks, in many ways, to discount, minimize or discard the message and the messenger of the Gospel – the Good News of God with us.  The reductive materialism that pervades secular society uses the profound cultural and religious realities proclaimed by the Gospel as backdrops to materialism while at the same time demythologizing and minimizing the Christian faith under the banner of inclusion and diversity. These relativists proclaim that only material possessions and political power really count.


King Herod cynically asks the chief priests and scribes about the Messiah whom he seeks, in reality, to kill. 
The Magi’s response, that Matthew records, combines two strands of Old Testament promise – one reveals the Messiah to be from the line of David (2 Sam 2:5), the other predicts "a ruler of Israel" who will "shepherd his flock" and whose "greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth" (Micah 5:1-3).
Secularism and an unbridled relativizing multiculturalism seek to obscure, decry, deny and kill the Epiphany (revelation) of the one true God, in the person of Jesus Christ.  The therapy of disenchantment, however, loses its power as people turn to the light of Truth and reject the dictatorship of relativism and the myth of reductive materialism.
The kingdom of the Messiah will stretch "to the ends of the earth," and the world's kings will pay Jesus homage. 

In today's First Reading we see nations stream from the East, bearing "gold and frankincense" for Israel's king.

The Magi's pilgrimage, as recorded in the Gospel, marks the fulfillment of God's promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, followed the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler's staff over the house of Jacob (Num. 24).
Laden with gold and spices, their journey recalls King Solomon who was visited by the Queen of Sheba and the "kings of the earth" (1 Kings 10). The only other place where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together is in songs about Solomon.

Yet, one greater than Solomon is here (Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are "co-heirs" of the royal family of Israel, as today's Epistle teaches us.

The manifestation of Jesus Christ forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Christ as the wise Magi did? Or, will we be like the priests and the scribes and the therapists of disenchantment today who seek to relativize and deny the promise articulated by the prophets – the revelation of the Messiah, the Saviour of all humanity.

The eternal, all-wise, God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.  

“. . . the mystery of Christ was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed . . .”  Ephesians 3: 5 

Isaiah 60:1-6;   Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6;   Matthew 2:1-12


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