The Epiphany of the Lord Year A - 8/1/2023 - Gospel: Mt 2:1-12
Neither East Nor West

The feast of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of God to all people. The three kings, known as the three wise men from the East who travalled from afar, came to pay homage to the infant king. The number 'three' implies plurality. People are tied to their king, and when a king acts, he does it for his nation and his people. In this context, God reveals himself to countries throughout the earth. The birth of Jesus erases all human borders.

The arrival of the poor shepherds and the three wealthy kings implied when people come before God, their social status and boundary disappear. All people are equal before God, and all are God's beloved children. The term the 'wise men from the East' serves as a geographical location, rather than the race. We need the terms, East and West, North and South, to clarify directions. For God, there are neither European nor Oriental; all are the chosen race. God loves and embraces them all. The star in the sky belongs to neither East nor West but is simply the sign which directs the wise men coming to the inn where they found the infant king and paid him homage. The contrast between the wise and the unwise is that the wise ones were people who loved and went out searching for the infant king to pay him homage, while the unwise ones were people who were not committed, but preferred to stay in their comfort zones. Their love for God was not from their hearts, but their lips.

The wise men could include the shepherds, the three kings, or wise men. The shepherds were intelligent for trusting the voice of God's messengers. Hearing the Good News, they committed themselves to go out in the middle of the night to meet the newborn king. They praised God and spread the Good News. The three kings were not wise in terms of political viewpoint because the risk of leaving a country unattended for an unspecified period would be regarded as unwise. They were praised for doing the wise thing because they placed their faith in God. They were smart for their commitment to searching for the meaning of life and for their observation and astrological knowledge. The three kings were wise for not seeking to honour themselves but to honour God. Meeting the infant king, they offered him Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold. The gifts they carried with them, all the way on the journey, revealed the sincerity of their hearts. They were humble, on their knees before the infant king, taking the role of servants to pay him homage.

Closely and carefully observation was their habit; before meeting the infant king, they were wise for trusting the light of the guiding star. They had no idea where the star could lead them, and yet they were committed to following. After meeting the infant king, this time they observe their own mind; and recognize the inner voice of their dreams. It was not an ordinary dream but a special voice telling them what to do. They observed the voice, followed its guidance and got home safe and sound.

In the bible, 'wise' means to love God. For humans, 'wise' is often associated with knowledge because knowledge generates money and power. The tyrant king, Herod, and his advisers, the chief priests, and Scribes had much knowledge of the Scriptures. Their knowledge served king Herod. They submit themselves to him. We don't know how much insight they had into Herod's evil plan to kill Jesus. We know God revealed Herod's evil thoughts to Joseph and the three wise kings, telling them to move away from the tyrant.

Instead of repentance, Herod widened his murderous plan even further to all young boys in Bethlehem and surrounding areas, killing all boys from two years old and under, reckoning from the day Herod met the Magi. The three wise kings had a lot of wealth and power but were spiritually poor. They went in search of spiritual nourishment. We learn from them to enrich our spiritual life.