Epiphany Sunday Homily 2017

  • Readings: 
    • First Reading Isaiah 60:1–6
    • Response Psalm 72:11
    • Psalm Psalm 72:1–2, 7–8, 10–11, 12–13
    • Second Reading Ephesians 3:2–3a, 5–6
    • Gospel Acclamation Matthew 2:2
    • Gospel Matthew 2:1–12

Homily Resources:

1st year theology homily

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

I have a question for you from today’s Gospel. When was the last time you were, like the wise men, “overwhelmed with joy”?

Some of you may think back 2 weeks ago to opening up your favourite Christmas present, some of you may not remember the last time you experienced joy, and some of you may honestly admit that you have never been “overwhelmed with joy”. 

Whereas we can often experience pleasure in our bodies and happiness is our minds and our feelings, JOY is something far different and more mysterious.

Joy is in our hearts.

St. Thomas Aquinas says that JOY is the delight in possession of a present good.

Let me repeat that, because it is important to understand, joy is the delight in possession of a present good.

To unpack this definition and understand how we can experience joy in our lives, let us journey with the wise men from today’s Gospel.

The wise men teach us 3 keys to experiencing joy and these are the 3 theological virtues of faith, hope and love.

First,

the wise men teach us about the theological virtue of FAITH.

Faith means simply trusting God and acting upon it.

We hear in the Gospels that

“wise men from the East came to Jerusalem [because they]… observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage”

The wise men travelled over 1,100 kilometres from Mesopotamia to Jerusalem.. that would be over 230 hours of walking! … to pay homage to a baby!?

We often think of these wise men as great kings and brilliant astronomers, but they seem to be far more like hopeless romantics or some teenage fanboys chasing after their celebrity crush!

What on earth would impel these wise men leave their comfortable home in Mesopotamia and make such a difficult journey?

They had the gift of FAITH.

For the wise men, FAITH changed the star from being simply a ball of gas to observe in the sky to, what we read in the Gospels, “His star”, the 1st clue from God for the wise men in the greatest game of hide-and-go-seek ever played.

And FAITH is essential to JOY.

Since JOY is the delight in the possession of a present good, FAITH is to say yes to God that the good exists and going toward it.

Second,

The wise men teach us about the theological virtue of HOPE.

Hope means simply faith looking forward.

We read in the Gospels the wise men had a discussion with Herod about where the child was to be born and then it was Herod who sent them to Bethlehem. It seems to indicate that the star  disappeared from their sight and that they now needed to rely on the prophecies in the Old Testament to complete their journey.

The wise-men are like those friends that never give up playing hide-and-go-seek until they find the person they are looking for.

The wise men’s hope was not some vague optimism or wish, but an active faith that what God revealed to them in the starry sky of Mesopotamia and in the Old Testament prophecies would ultimately lead them to their goal.

And HOPE is essential to JOY.

Since JOY is the delight in the possession of a present good, HOPE is faith that that good will actually be obtained in the future.

And Third,

The wise men teach us about the theological virtue of LOVE.

Love means simply to love God above all things and love our neighbour for the love of God.

We hear in the Gospels…

“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage… opening their treasure chests, offering him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”

Have you ever wondered about what the holy family did with these gifts?

Considering the heroic poverty they lived, it seems like they offered Jesus the most impractical gifts ever… not your typical baby shower gifts.

A modern day equivalent would be like giving a baby boy a new gold iPhone 7, some Burberry cologne, and some embalming fluid to preserve his body from corruption in death…

But aside from the practicality of these gifts, the wise men proved their heroic act of love by making the long journey, kneeling down at his crib, and offering Jesus all they had.

And LOVE is essential to JOY.

Since JOY is the delight in the possession of a present good, LOVE is that final choice to obtain the good.

In summary, the wise men exercised the 3 theological virtues of faith, hope and love. As a result, they were “overwhelmed with joy”.

Faith, hope, love, and joy are a package deal.

You need to exercise faith and have hope to LOVE and you need show LOVE to find joy.

An image might help

Faith is the root.

Hope is the stem.

Love is the flower.

And joy is the fragrance.

The beautiful thing about joy is that it is always a surprise.

Jesus had played the greatest game of hide-and-go-seek with the wise men.

He wooed them over 1,100 kilometres to a poor house in Bethlehem by giving them the 3 theological virtues of faith, hope and love to draw them into his presence. By exercising their faith, hope and love… the wise men were surprised by Joy.

Jesus Christ still plays this great game of hide-and-go-seek with us… in the Eucharist.

He is truly hidden. Let us seek Him in the Eucharist by exercising faith, hope and love.

A simple prayer we can pray any time of the day to exercise our faith hope and love, especially after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, was revealed by an angel to the children in Fatima, it goes

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.”

You just might be surprised by JOY.

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