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Sunday 6 January 2019: The Epiphany

Looking to the star

Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-22; Matthew 2:1-12

By Graviour Augustine


Context: about 90 students of theology residing at Oriens Theological College, a Catholic Major Seminary at Shillong, India

Aim: Like the wise men we must be wise looking up to the ‘star’ to reach Christ


Swami Parama Arubi Ananda, Swami Abhishiktananda and Swami Dayananda were great names once. All these, absolutely Indian names, might sound strange to many younger generation of Indians themselves today. To clarify, the first two were French and the third was English. The first two came to India as Fr. Jules Minchanin and Fr. Henri Le Saux. The third one came to India as Fr. Bede Griffiths.

The first two established Shantivanam Ashram on the banks of the river Cauvery near Trichy, a city in the centre of the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The third one developed the Ashram further. All these Swamis, therefore, were associated with Shantivanam Ashram, a centre for dialogue between Hinduism and Christianity.

Interesting as it might seem, these three men today are referred to as ‘Three Wise Men from the West.’

The works of these ‘wise men from the West’ show that they dedicated their lives to the spread of the Gospel in order that the great minds of Hinduism will know, appreciate and accept Christ and his message.

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated today, highlights wise men from the opposite direction – from the East. In their following the ‘star’ leading to Christ, in their reaching the ‘house’ of Jesus and Mary, in their ‘offering’ to Jesus, and in their ‘worship’ of the Child Jesus, their wisdom began to shine.

If both the wise men from different parts of the world find in Christ the meeting point – the men from the West in spreading the message of Christ and the men from the East in worshipping Christ – then, they show us the way to become wise.

Calling us all to see the thick darkness covering the earth and the peoples, Prophet Isaiah urges us to ‘arise’ and ‘shine’ (v. 1). But it needs that we become wise to know that the Lord has come (v. 2). We therefore undertake a journey seeking him.

Enveloped by everything that is trying to enslave us, nay destroy us, the future of our younger ones, much more, every creature, looks shockingly bleak and dark. We are in an environment where the norm is to do openly what Gandhi warned about and stood against in the mid-1920s: ‘Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; and Politics without principle.’

When darkness surrounds practically every area of our life, what the wise men did assures us that we may reach to the Light: they were ‘looking at the star’ to be led by it; when led by the ‘star’ they reached the ‘house’ of Christ with Mary; on reaching the house precious gold, frankincense and myrrh became their loving offering; and they worshipped the king of kings and did not obeyed the ‘instruction’ of the king of the world - Herod (cf. Gospel).

A sad universal phenomenon, spreading far and wide today, is the failure of humanity to look up to the ‘star’ to be led by it. Instead, humanity is under the spell of ‘instruction’ from different ‘Herods’ - enticing, urging and threatening people not to raise their heads towards the ‘star’.

If being enveloped by darkness is a universal reality, the entire world needs to be led to the Light and, for it, the entire world needs to look up to the ‘star’, so that ‘all nations [may] fall prostrate before [the] Lord’ (Responsorial Psalm) in the Lord’s ‘house’ worshipping him.

An easy way the forces of darkness employ to keep all under their control is to demoralise and discredit the lone voice, the Church which protests, challenges and cries before world about the ‘star’ inviting all to look at it and be led by it. Thus, the Church is made to stand before the world as a woman bereft of all her power and authority to guide and lead and teach.

The mother Church being made up of saints and sinners, she at times suffers the pain of sinful tendencies in some, but she takes medicines needed for healing herself so that her children get better cared for and are led to where they should be.

Knowing this full well St. Paul cries out from the prison about the intention of God: ‘His intention was that …, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities’ (Eph 3: 10). He underlines the necessity of the Mother Church to lead the people to the house of God, to Christ, the light, life and wisdom and thus be wise.

On this feast of Epiphany when the glory of the Lord is manifest to the whole world, to his friends and foes alike, every one of us is invited by the Church to be wise men and women. Whether from North or South, East or West, all of us, will be wise only if we are led by the ‘star’ to the ‘house’ where Christ with his Mother lives. We need to kneel and worship no other but Him alone to be in the light, to be away from darkness and to be wise.

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