Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Procession of Nations

The feast of the Epiphany brings our meditation to a full circle. Let us first call to mind our meditations during the first 3 days of the Simbang Gabi. We said that in preparing for the Incarnation of his Son, the Father Almighty first created a world. Then he elected a nation. Then he formed a family. The manifestation of our Lord takes the opposite movement. On the midnight when he was born, the first to adore him was the family to whom he came: St. Joseph and our Lady. Then, yesterday, we heard how the shepherds came from the fields to adore him. These shepherds were Jews who watched their flock by night. Through them, the nation of Israel was present at the cradle of the Messiah. Today, magi coming from the East arrived to adore the new-born King. These were not part of the chosen nation of Israel but were from gentile nations. Many agree that these were Persian priests of Zoroaster. So, the adoration by the Magi brings the story to a full circle: World – Nation – Family – Family (Joseph and Mary) – Nation (The Jewish Shepherds) – World (the Gentile Magi).

And this would be a microcosm of the life of Jesus. He first spent years in anonymity in the house of Joseph in Nazareth. Then we preached to the children of Israel. However, as he preached to the Jews, he healed the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman. At first, he said that he came for the lost sheep of Israel but later on acceded to the gentile woman’s faith. Then, he cured the sick boy of the Roman Centurion whose faith amazed the Lord. Finally, before he ascended to heaven, he left this mandate to the Apostles: Go out to all the world and proclaim the Gospel. Baptize everyone in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them everything I have commanded you.

Indeed, the Incarnation the God the Son was not simply for the benefit of the family of Joseph and Mary. It was not only for the flock of Israel. It was meant for the whole world. This is what St. Paul referred to as the “secret”: the mystery that was not made known to people in other generations but has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This is the mystery: that the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Jesus is the Savior of the family of Joseph and Mary. He is likewise the Savior of Israel. He is likewise the Savior of the World. Indeed, after sitting in the darkness that has long covered the earth, Jerusalem shall rise at the coming of the light. She shall not only see her sons and daughters returning to her. She shall also see the nations walking by her light: “The wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah, all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.”

Indeed, we find ourselves as part of that long procession of nations that walk towards the cradle of Him who is born as Light from Light, True God from True God. And we have come to adore him. Not only do we come bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We come with the homage of our Faith, Hope and Love. And as the Magi were overjoyed at seeing the star, we are likewise overjoyed to stand before the altar. For we are no longer dogs that eat the leavings that fall from the Master’s table but rather, we sit at the table together with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God.

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