Homily on the Epiphany of the Lord
May all kings bow before him, all nations serve him (Ps 72:11)
If you attended Mass in our community since December 25, you noticed that I used Eucharistic Prayer I (Roman Canon). This question might arise in your mind: Why did Father not use other Eucharistic Prayers in the Missal which are shorter and thus might be more practicable for days of great solemnities with longer liturgies? (For those who do not know the parts of the Mass well, the Eucharistic Prayer begins after the Prayers over the Offerings with the dialogue, “the Lord be with you,” and end with the great doxology, “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever. R. Amen”).
I have used the Roman Canon since Christmas because from December 25 throughout the Octave of Christmas, this is the Proper Form of “Communicantes/In communion with those”: “Celebrating the most sacred night (day) on which blessed Mary the immaculate Virgin brought forth the Savior for the world, and in communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, . . .” Then, today, on the Epiphany of the Lord, we will use this Form “Celebrating the most sacred day on which your Only Begotten Son, eternal with you in your glory, appeared in a human body, truly sharing our flesh, and in communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious, ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, . . . ” These special inserts make present the saving event that the Church celebrates on that day. They remind us that in participation in the liturgy of the Church, the Holy Spirit takes us out of this mundane time, the chronos, and inserts us into the time of salvation, the kairos.
The Proper Form of Communicantes of Epiphany reminds us that the “Only Begotten Son, eternal with [the Father]in your glory, appeared in a human body, truly sharing our flesh.” This insert once proclaimed by the presider places us at the threshold of the door in Bethlehem and with the magi “on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage” (Mt 2:11).
The magi saw the Lord with their own eyes and perhaps with their own hands holding onto the Holy Infant, the Savior of the Word, and did him homage. Through the liturgy of the Church today, we experience much more than them. Precisely in Holy Communion, we receive the very Body and Blood of Christ in us! The Body that the Eternal Word took from the womb of Mary now is given to us in Holy Communion! Just seeing the Infant Child, the magi did him homage, so we now encounter the Real Presence of Christ from the altar at Mass are called to give the Lord our fitting adoration.
In reflecting on the depth of these special inserts, especially on the one for Epiphany, into the Roman Canon, let us return to one detail in the Gospel of the Solemnity of Epiphany of our Lord. The Gospel indicates that “having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way” (Mt 2:12). Enlightened by faith, they recognized that Jesus truly is the King of Heaven and Earth and Him alone they gave homage. Since the insert into the Roman Canon helps put us at the threshold of the house in Bethlehem of Judah to adore the Lord, let us join the magi in reject all the ungodly ways! Let us have the courage to “go home in another way.” That is let us acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ, our King. Amen.