Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72: Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6: Matthew 2:1-12

Theme: Arise and Shine!

1. Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word ‘epiphany’ is a combination of two Greek words, ‘epi’ (on, upon) and ‘phaneia’ (shine, appear), thus, ‘epiphany’ can be roughly translated as “shine on” or “shine upon” or “appear upon”. From the perspective of today’s liturgy however, ‘epiphany’ means ‘manifestation’ (of Christ to the world). It is traditionally celebrated on January 6th or on the Sunday between January 2nd and 8th. This feast celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the gentiles by the revelation of his star to the Wise Men from the East, the implication of which is that Jesus did not come to save the Jews only but to save the whole world.

2. The universality of this salvation Jesus won for us is reflected in all the readings of today’s Mass. Reading 1 says “NATIONS shall walk by your light”; the Psalmist says “ALL NATIONS shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord” while the 2nd Reading tells us that “Gentiles are now fellow heirs (of salvation), members of the same body, and partakers of the promise of salvation and in the Gospel text, we read that Jesus’ star was seen in the East; the wise men saw his star and in it, his glory, and they came to worship him.

3. For the purpose of our reflection today, we shall focus on the gospel text. Today’s gospel tells us that the wise men were led to Jesus by star light. That star appeared once, never to appear again. But even today, there are still very many people who need to find Jesus. Isaiah 60:2 says “Thick darkness shall cover the peoples…” Look around the world and you will agree with me that the darkness of sin and unrighteousness has covered many people. Such people need the light to lead them out of their darkness, and God expects us to be their guiding stars. So today, God says to us: Arise, shine! Shine, because God’s glory has risen upon you. When the radiance of God shines upon us, we must reflect it to others. In Exodus 34:29, scripture tells us that when Moses came down from the mountain, his face shone, because he had been talking to God.

4. As God’s children, Jesus says we are the light of the world and our light must shine, so that seeing our good work, people will give glory to our Father in heaven (Mat 5:14-16). So we ask ourselves today:
* Am I being a light, leading people out of the darkness of sin?
* If people follow my lifestyle, will they find God at the end?
* As a husband/father, am I being a light to my wife/children?
* As a wife/mother, am I being a light to my husband/children?
* Can I convincingly ask my husband/wife/children to imitate my lifestyle? If they do, how will they end?
* As an elder brother/sister, what am I showing my younger ones by the kind of life I live: light or darkness?
* As a teacher, is my life a light guiding my pupils/students?
* As a priest, can my parishioners follow in my example and find God?
* The word of God says “Nations shall come to your light” (Isa 60:3). If people come to you, will they find light or darkness?
Hear me child of God: If nobody is looking up to you for spiritual mentorship and guidance, then your time on earth is wasting.

5. Child of God, the time has come for us to rise and shine!
• Arise and shine, because God’s glory has been given to you
• Arise and shine, because the world is in darkness and needs your light
• Arise and shine, because there are many souls seeking for direction to where they can find Jesus, and they need you to show them the way.
• Arise and shine, because if you dim your light and prevent people from finding their way to God, you shall be held accountable on the day of judgment
• Arise and shine, because somebody needs your light in order not to end up in hell.
• Arise and shine, because God has commanded us to do so.
• Arise and shine, because in shining, your own soul will avoid hell and go to heaven.

6. Very importantly, never think that the light you give off is too small compared to the darkness around you. Even one little lit bulb can give light to a room that can contain a thousand bulbs. If we all give off our little lights, then we shall have brightness all over in no time. Also, always bear in mind that to shine the light of righteousness, we must be in constant touch with Jesus, the source of righteousness. We cannot shine unless we ourselves have light, since one cannot give what one does not have.

May Jesus the bright morning star, help us to live our lives in brightness Amen.