Throughout the Old Testament, there are numerous references to “God’s chosen people,” the Israelites. They are the ones who continually receive God’s favour and blessing, and who God seems to have a special concern for throughout biblical history. However, even though the Israelites were chosen by God to be his people, it is important to recognize exactly what that calling entails: something that the Israelites often failed to do!
In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah reminds the people of Israel that because the glory of the Lord has risen upon them, they are called to be a light to all the nations of the world. In other words, they are to be the light that leads all people to knowledge of the one true God, because God’s presence has been made manifest in their midst.
Isaiah foretells the coming of the Magi, which we read about in today’s Gospel, when he speaks of people coming from the land of Sheba with gifts of gold and frankincense. In the visit of the Magi to the newborn Christ child, we recognize the truth that the presence of God has been made manifest to all the nations of the world. The magi are the first to recognize that God desires to be in relationship with all the peoples of the earth, all of whom have been created in the image and likeness of God.
Because the presence of the Lord has been made manifest to us through the Sacraments of the Church, we too are called to share in the same mission to spread the light of Christ into the world. Throughout his pontificate, the late Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that our faith is the result of our encounter with Jesus Christ, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Our job then, as disciples of Christ, is to help others to have that same transformative encounter with God, who has revealed himself to us.
As we celebrate the epiphany this year, I invite you to take some time in prayer, and ask god how he is calling you to encounter him more deeply, and to make his presence known in the world. May we respond to the presence of God in faith and strive always to respond to his call as his disciples.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB