The Epiphany of the Lord

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jan 5, 2009

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

The Epiphany of the Lord

January 4, 2009


Isaiah 60:1-6

Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Matthew 2:1-12


January is Poverty in America Awareness Month

January 4: The Epiphany of the Lord

January 4-10: National Migration Week: "From Many, One Family of God."

January 7: Orthodox Christmas


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

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin.

Catholic Catechism, no. 2241

In Christ Jesus "there does not exist among you Jew or Greek, slave or freedom, 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 are 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

Wherever the dignity and rights of the human person are trampled upon; wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good; wherever fratricidal hatred and the exploitation of man by man risk being taken for granted; wherever internecine conflicts divide ethnic and social groups and disrupt peaceful coexistence; wherever terrorism continues to strike; wherever the basics needed for survival are lacking; wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations: in each of these places may the Light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity. If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart.

Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi Message, Christmas 2008

... we all share in a single divine plan: we are called to form one family in which all - individuals, peoples and nations - model their behavior according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility.

Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Peace 2008

Thoughts for your consideration

In an age of globalization, the celebration of Epiphany takes on more importance than ever.  The vision of Christ is to provide a light for the whole world.  The vision of Christ calls together the whole world and all its peoples.  The vision of Christ calls for a healing of divisions and openness to learn from all people.  The vision of Christ calls for a just world order - trade policies that respect the economic opportunities of all people especially the poor - immigration policies that are just and respectful of people -- environmental policies that respect the world that we all share together - financial systems that support the common good and not the wealth of the few --spending policies that respond to human needs - investment in human needs rather than the weapons of war.

The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to celebrate Jesus who 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 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, Herod 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 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.

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, immigrant or native born, from the south or the north, from the east or the west, educated at a famous school or a very ordinary one, employed or unemployed, healthy or sick, 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.

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?

Actions - Links

Fighting Poverty to Build Peace Go to to read the message of John Paul II for the World Day of Peace for 1 January 2009.

... we all share in a single divine plan: we are called to form one family in which all - individuals, peoples and nations - model their behavior according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility.

National Migration Week (January 4 to 10, 2009) is celebrated annually to focus on the needs of migrants and refugees. The theme this year is "Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice."  For more info, go to the site of the NCCB/USCC Office for Migration and Refugee Services:  Justice for Immigrants: The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform can be found at  and includes lots of information and actions steps to be taken.
Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has designated January as Poverty Awareness Month.  Does your state or region make one of the top ten lists? See or

"Crazy facts"

According to the US Census Bureau about 12 percent of the U.S. population today is foreign born; in the early 20th century, that figure was nearly 15 percent.

The President's Council of Economic Advisers in its "2007 Economic Report of the President," reports that "immigrants make up a larger share of the U.S. workforce (15 percent) than they do the population (12 percent). Their labor force participation is higher and their unemployment rate is lower than that of native-born workers."

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in its "Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity: 1996-2005," reports that in 2005, the level of entrepreneurial activity - defined as the establishment of a business - was 25 percent higher among immigrants than native-born Americans.

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 to find a safe home in our world, we pray....

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

For all those who are discriminated against because of who they are, we pray.....

For all peoples that they may learn a way to welcome and respect people who are different, we pray....

For effective dialogue to replace the fighting and barriers between warring peoples, we pray....

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


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.



Liturgy and prayer suggestions connected with the immigration issues can be found at the web site of "Justice for Immigrants: The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform" at

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