“They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10-11)
Growing up in grade school, one of the toughest classes for me was reading. I couldn’t sit still, imagine that, and I couldn't bear to sit for 20 minutes and read. We had something called Accelerated Reader, which was a program that tested your reading skills. And after being tested on different books, you would receive different point values and basically try to have the most points in class. One of the major things you wanted to focus on, like any teacher or student will tell you, was on the characters, in the story. If you didn’t know the characters you were in trouble and you weren’t going to pass the test.
In the Gospel for the Feast of the Epiphany, the primary characters in the story are the Wise Men, who perform a powerful gesture of love toward Jesus: “They prostrated themselves and did him homage.” To be prostrate is to be flat on the floor, face down, disarmed, immobile, vulnerable. Much more than a nod of the head, or a quick genuflection, this gesture expresses the heart’s conviction of being in the presence of “One mightier than I.” These Wise Men express through their bodies, the inner stance of deep humility, the only true response in the presence of God enfleshed in Jesus. These three Wise Men, who encounter Jesus gave gifts and did Him homage...What are the gifts that God has given you in life? What gifts do you want to offer the Lord and the community?
Take time to get to know the characters of the Gospel. They are important to us. And knowing them will not only help you pass the spiritual Accelerated Reader test of life, but they will teach you how to react when you encounter the living presence of God in your life.
***On a side note, if your family is open to it, I would be happy to offer the Epiphany Home Blessing upon your family and home this Christmas season and beyond in the winter months ahead. I can bless your home from the inside or the outside, whatever you prefer. This would be a great way for me to get to know your family as well as offer the gift of God’s blessing to you and your loved ones. Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 330-644-2225.
God bless you and Happy Epiphany!
Fr. Jeremy Merzweiler