Lectionary Reflections: The Epiphany, January 4, 2015

Engaging Faith | Sat, Jan 3, 2015

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

The Epiphany  

January 4, 2015

Copyright © 2014 Center of Concern


Isaiah 60:1-6

Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Matthew 2:1-12



January 4: Epiphany of the Lord 

January 4: Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

January 4-10: National Migration Week 

January 7: Orthodox Christmas Day

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


“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


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


Child of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity. Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.

- Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message, Christmas 2013


I urgently appeal to all men and women of good will, and all those near or far, including the highest levels of civil institutions, who witness the scourge of contemporary slavery, not to become accomplices to this evil, not to turn away from the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, who are deprived of their freedom and dignity.

- Pope Francis, World Day of Prayer for Peace 2015


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 one another 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 world that lives in an environmentally sustainable way -- a greater equality in sharing the fruits of our work and our earth – an end to racial injustice and exclusion.

     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, slavery, 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. He is not only afraid of change, but afraid of real community. 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, a powerful good news, and a 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.

    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, police or citizen, 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. Despite lots of work, immigration reform is stalled in Congress. 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.


    In the United States over the last few months, there has been an intense discussion about racial injustice.  Police officers have been assassinated. Civilians have been killed. Racial feelings have come to the surface. The Feast of Epiphany invites us to reflect on all these things. How do we move from distrust to community?  How do we come to understand our need to be forgiven?  How do we come to understand our need to forgive and understand the other? How do we have a society where all men and women are respected and honored as children of God?


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?


When have you encountered immigrants or refugees?  How were touched by their stories?


When have you experienced racial injustice or discrimination of some kind?  How did you react?  Did you speak up?  Where you afraid to speak up?



A Sufi of forbidding appearance arrived at the doors of the palace. No one dared to stop him as he made his way right up to the throne on which the saintly Ibrahim ben Adam sat.

"What is it you want?" asked the King.

"A place to sleep in this inn."

"This is no inn. This is my palace."

"May I ask who owned this place before you?"

"My father. He is dead."

"And who owned it before him?"

"My grandfather. He is dead too."

"And this place where people lodge for a brief while and move on—did I hear you say it was not an inn?"


Actions - Links 

National Migration Week: "We are One Family Under God.

Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week (January 4-10) can be found at the site of the NCCB/USCC Office for Migration and Refugee Services:

Pope Francis’ messages for recent World Days for Migrants and Refugees can be found at:

Visit the Justice for Immigrants website where you can find a wide range of educational resources on immigration and Catholic Social Teaching.

Strangers No Longer Together on the Journey of Hope, a Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States, 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. 


Find out more at


Pope Francis’ recent message for the World Day of Peace which is 1 January 2015 addresses contemporary forms of slavery and human trafficking and can be read at:


Also check out the web site of the Not for Sale Campaign at:


“Crazy facts”

Human trafficking / slavery involves 30 million human beings in the world today. 

Get more facts at: 

Since 1986, the federal government has spent over $180 billion on immigration enforcement. Get more info at: 

Immigration facts for all fifty states and DC are available at: 


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 migrants who have left their lands to find new homes and work, we pray….

For the many refugees struggling around our world, 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 an end to the persistent sighting between ethnic groups all over our world, we pray….

For those who are victims of human trafficking or modern day slavery, we pray….

For an end of racism and other discrimination and stereotyping in our society, we pray….

For cooperation between all people to bring an end to the abuse of our environment, we pray….



National Migration Week: A Collected Book of Prayers for Migrants can be found at: .   One prayer from this booklet is here:


Good and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of families.

We are grateful for all of the joy and love that they bring into our lives, and we ask that you provide special protection for all families, particularly those who face hardships as they move in search of a better life.


Show mercy to those who travel in danger, and lead them to a place of safety and peace.

Comfort those who are alone and afraid because their families have been torn apart by violence and injustice.


As we reflect upon the difficult journey that the Holy Family faced as refugees in Egypt, help us to remember the suffering of all migrant families.

Through the intercession of Mary our Mother, and St. Joseph the Worker, her spouse, we pray that all migrants may be reunited with their loved ones and find the meaningful work they seek.

Open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality for all who come in search of refuge.

Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.



A prayer service for Human Trafficking Awareness Day can be found at:


The following is 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.


A Prayer for Migrants from 


Merciful and loving Father, 

      you provided for your people Israel in their exodus from slavery

      a promised land that you established for them,

      and in Jesus Christ you provide welcome refuge for all in need.

We ask for your divine protection for all migrants

      who have left their homes in search of new opportunity in another land.

For refugees, who are forced from their homes due to threats of violence,

      we beseech you to provide them a safe haven. 

For migrants trafficked into slavery,

      grant them rescue, healing, and the strength to start again.

For immigrants, who so often leave their family and  friends behind,

      grant them a better life and greater opportunity elsewhere.

We pray in particular for your protection over migrant children 

      who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse at the hands of others.

We implore you to grant all migrants your protection

      and lead them to a place of safety.

Be with all those in need with your power to save.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you 

      in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. 




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