The Epiphany

Engaging Faith | Sun, Jan 8, 2012

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Epiphany reflections: called to be one human family

The Epiphany 
 January 8, 2012

Isaiah 60:1-6
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

January 7: Orthodox Christmas
January 8-14: National Migration Week: “Welcoming Christ in the Migrant”
January 8: The Epiphany of the Lord
January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day


The words of the apostle Paul, “caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5:14), urge us to give ourselves preferentially to our brothers and sisters who are most in need. 
Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2007

In Christ Jesus "there does not exist among you Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus." …. It is in Christ, that the Church finds the central cause for its commitment to justice, and to the struggle for the human right and dignity of all persons.
            Brothers and Sisters to Us, US Bishops

“We belong to one human family. As such we have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of all people across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries. In particular, the rich nations have responsibility toward the poor nations, and the structures of the international order must reflect justice.”
         Catholic Social Teaching, Our Best Kept Secret, page 24                                             

“In the course of twenty centuries of history, the generations of Christians have periodically faced various obstacles to this universal Mission.  Despite such adversities, the Church constantly renews her deepest inspiration, that which comes to her directly from the Lord: To the whole world! To all creation! Right to the ends of the earth! She did this once more at the last Synod, as an appeal not to imprison the proclamation of the Gospel by limiting it to one sector of mankind or to one class of people or to a single type of civilization.”
Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World, Evangelii Nuntiandi

The migrant is a human person who possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance (cf. n. 62).
Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2010

Asylum seekers, who fled from persecution, violence and situations that put their life at risk, stand in need of our understanding and welcome, of respect for their human dignity and rights, as well as awareness of their duties.
Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2011
Thoughts for your consideration

     In an age of globalization, the celebration of Epiphany takes on more importance than ever. The magi are not Jews, but they seek the Christ as do the Jewish people. Christ is a light for the whole world.  Christ calls together the whole world and all its peoples.  Christ calls for a healing of divisions and openness to learn from all people.  Christ calls for a just world order – trade policies that respect the economic opportunities of all people especially the poor – environmental policies that respect the world that we all share together – spending policies that respond to human needs – investment in human needs rather than the weapons of war – a greater equality in sharing the fruits of our work and our earth.

     The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to celebrate the wonderful reality that Jesus came as a light to all people, not just to some subset of the human race. Thus, the categorical exclusion of anyone contradicts the good news of Jesus Christ.  Racism, stereotyping, discrimination, xenophobia, ethnic violence, extreme income & asset inequality are all wrong.

     The behavior of Herod reflects the behavior of one who is afraid. The news about a new child to be “king” threatens his kingship. Rather than learning from the wisdom of the foreign visitors, he is afraid, and seeks to destroy what they came to discover.

      The behavior of the foreign visitors or magi is the behavior of those who seek the truth at great cost. The child offers a vision that is worth traveling a long distance to experience. Jesus offers a light that is worth sharing. In the wisdom of a child born in humble circumstances, they find a wonderful light, powerful good news, and liberation from sin, injustice, and prejudice.

      The foreigners experience the power and the gift of Christ. They also bring gifts with them gifts that are given to the child but also “gifts” that open our eyes to the experience of the light of Christ as a gift for the whole world. This mutuality is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Giving and receiving happen at the same time. This must be true in our ministry for justice.

    The story of the magi has implications for many aspects of church ministry.  No one is to be excluded from the light of Christ. Whether we are young or old, female or male, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white, from the south or the north, from the east or the west, from a famous school or a very ordinary one, employed or unemployed, healthy or sick, born in the US or elsewhere, we are all invited to experience the epiphany.

In the United States over the last few years immigration policies have become a matter of great discussion.  Today is the start of National Immigration Week. The Feast of Epiphany invites us to reflect on these issues and translate our faith into an inclusive welcome to all God’s children.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you lived outside of our own country or culture?
    How did this influence your understanding of Jesus Christ and the gospel?


The good news of Christ is to be good news for the whole world.
    Have you ever felt excluded from the good news of Christ?
    How did this experience of exclusion come to be healed?


The story of the Epiphany is about a search for something and about following a star or light. The following story has many versions.  This version is from

One day, people saw Mullah Nasruddin out in the street searching frantically for something. The inquisitive nature of man was on work. “What are you searching for, Mullah? They enquired.

“I’ve lost my key” replied Mullah.

The helping nature of humankind was at work. So everyone joined him, trying to help him. After some search someone had the urge to ask the place where exactly, the key was lost. So that more condensed search could be made. So, the enquiry was made for the same to Nasruddin.

“I lost the key in the house,” replied Mulla matter-of-factly.

“Then why are you searching for it in the street?” was the obvious question asked to him.

“Because there is more light here.” Replied the Mulla

Actions - Links

National Migration Week:
►Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week: “Welcoming Christ in the Migrant,” January 8-14 can be found at the site of the NCCB/USCC Office for Migration and Refugee Services at
►Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees (last September), entitled “Migration and the New Evangelization” can be found at:

January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Various information and educational resources can be found at the web pages of the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center.

“Crazy facts”

Justice for Immigrants, a campaign of the USCCB, provides lots of info about immigrants at

While first generation, non-English speaking immigrants predictably have lower rates of English proficiency than native speakers, 91% of second generation immigrants are fluent or near fluent English speakers.  By the third generation, 97% speak English fluently or near fluently. 

Between one half and three quarters of undocumented immigrants pay state and federal taxes.  They also contribute to Medicare and provide as much as 7 billion dollars a year to the Social Security Fund.

Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson has found that first generation immigrants are 45% less likely to commit violent crimes than Americanized, third generation immigrants.

A recent study produced by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that “Rapid increases in the foreign-born population at the state level are not associated with negative effects on the employment of native-born workers.”

Research reported by both the CATO Institute and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors reveals that the average immigrant pays a net 80,000 dollars more in taxes than they collect in government services.

Prayers of Intercession

Response: God of all people, lead us on the road to peace.
For our church that we will be a welcoming community, we pray….
For our nation that we will be a welcoming country, we pray….
For the many refugees struggling around our world, we pray….
For migrants who have left their lands to find new homes and work, we pray….
For all peoples that they may learn a way to welcome and respect new people into their lands, we pray….
For effective dialogue to replace the fighting and barriers between peoples, we pray….
For cooperation between all people to bring an end to the abuse of our environment, we pray….

This prayer for migrant and refugee children is from the prayer card for children found at

Loving Father, in your infinite compassion,
we seek your divine protection for refugee children who are often alone and afraid.

Provide solace to those who have been witnesses to violence and destruction,
who have lost parents, family, friends, home, and all they cherish due to war or persecution.
Comfort them in their sorrow, and bring help in their time of need.

Show mercy to unaccompanied migrant children, too, Lord.
Reunite them with their families and loved ones.
Guide those children who are strangers in a foreign land to a place of peace and safety.
Comfort them in their sorrow, and bring help in their time of need.

Show us how we might reach out to these precious and vulnerable children.
Open our hearts to migrant and refugee children in need,
so that we might see in them your own migrant Son.
Give us courage to stand up in their defense against those who would do them harm.

For this we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

The following is from and attributed to Pax Christi:

An Inter-faith prayer for peace

God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name for ever.
We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of crisis.
Your power changes hearts.
Muslims, Christians and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
    that they are followers of the one God, children of Abraham, brothers and sisters.
Enemies begin to speak to one another;
    those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
    nations seek the way of peace together.
Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
    understanding that puts an end to strife;
    mercy that quenches hatred, and
    forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love.  Amen.

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