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It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” Isaiah 2:2-3

Today the Church celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek epiphainen, which means “to shine upon,” “to manifest,” or “to make known.” The feast of the Epiphany celebrates how God made Himself known to the world through the mission and divinity of Christ at the Visitation of the Magi (Mt 2:1-12). There are two other epiphanies in Scripture: The Baptism of Jesus (Mk 1:9-11) and the Wedding Feast at Cana (Jn 2:1-11).

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9-11

The Visitation of the Magi is a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy that “the house of the Lord shall be established…and all the nations shall flow to it” (Is 2:2). The magi were pagans, Persian or Arabian astrologers, who charted the stars. Many in the ancient world believed that new stars or other heavenly signs would announce the birth of a new king. The Roman historians Suetonius and Tacitus spoke of an expectation that a world ruler would come from Judea.[1] It is not surprising then that the Eastern astrologists would interpret the star of Bethlehem as a sign of the birth of a Jewish king.

The Magi set out on a long journey tracking a new star that had appeared in the sky. They went out seeking what this sign could mean, not knowing what they would find. They had a hunger for understanding and truth. They did not know where their journey would lead them or who they would find but they wanted to pay him homage.

It was understandable that the Magi first went to Herod, the reigning King of the Jews, thinking that this new king was his offspring. In meeting with Herod, they learned that no new child was born. In fear of a new king taking over this kingdom, Herod convened the chief priests and scribes, who told him scripture predicted a Jewish ruler would be born in Bethlehem.

But you, O Bethlehem Eph′rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2

The Magi were surprised and perplexed that Herod knew nothing about a new-born king and that he asked them to go ahead of him in search of the child and report back what they found (Mt 2:8). Certainly, Herod could send his own delegation in search of the child so the Magi became suspicious of his intentions.

When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:9-11

In seeing the Christ child, the lives of the Magi were changed forever. God is urging us to seek Jesus as the Magi did with a hunger for understanding and truth of who this child might be. God is calling us to encounter Jesus in the manger, bowing down and worshiping Him, humbly offering Him the treasures of our hearts. God wants us to adore the child like the Magi, giving Him our lives willing and in gratitude.

Come and meet the Christ child. His kingdom is founded on love and mercy, in humility and service. He came that we may be set free from sin and death. God’s love for us is not doctrinal theory but personified in the love of His Son. He longs for us to experience this love. He never stops seeking and calling us to a personal relationship with His Son. This love brought Him to earth and took Him to the cross. In meeting Jesus, like the Magi you will be filled with great joy, gratitude, and praise for the marvelous thing God has done for you.

O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! Psalm 95:6

[1] BibleGateway Blog, Who Were the Magi?, internet: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2017/12/who-were-the-magi/ (accessed January 2, 2020).