Epiphany Trivia Quiz!

Epiphany by James Christensen

Homily for Epiphany 2014
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

It’s been several years since I last gave an Epiphany Quiz
so I think it’s time to revive it.
Just a brief quiz based on the gospel we all just heard, so...

(Drag your cursor across the answer line for the right answer!)

Q.    How many kings are mentioned in the gospel story today?  3?  5?  2?
A.    Two (Herod and Jesus)

Q.    How many wise men were mentioned in the gospel today?  3?  5?  2?
A.    The gospel doesn’t mention any wise men at all!

Q.    How many magi are mentioned in the gospel today?     3?  5?  2?
A.    The gospel doesn’t tell us how many, only that “magi came.”

And a bonus question:
Q.    What are magi?
A.     Magi are Persian priests of the occult!

That’s who came to see Jesus: some Persian priests of the occult.

The problem here is that what we think we know about Epiphany
came not from the scriptures but from our opening hymn,
 “We Three Kings”
which poetically assumes that only royalty could afford such gifts
and since there were three gifts, there must have been three “kings”
and that’s what we find in art and in our nativity scenes at home.

The word epiphany means the manifestation, the revelation
of something not known before.
Of the four gospels, only Matthew’s recounts the story and intrigue
of these magi who arrive from the east following Bethlehem’s star.

The point of this is Matthew’s conviction that Jesus came
not only for the chosen of Israel, but for God’s people everywhere:
even for Persian priests of the occult;
even for Gentiles, for folks like you and me.

Our God is a God who reveals himself, who revealed himself in Jesus,
disclosing the divine, enmeshed, enfleshed in our humanity.
And the God revealed in Jesus 2,000 years ago
is still being revealed to folks like you and me.
In the scriptures?  Yes.  In the Church and its life?  Yes.
But in you and me, too.

Our God wants us to see with our own eyes,
to understand with our own minds,
to receive into our hearts the grace, the peace, the love
of him who always was, who is, and who will be forever.
Perhaps, then, the most important questions for an Epiphany quiz
should be these:
• Do you believe that God reveals himself to you? 
Not just to Mary and Joseph,
and the shepherds and the magi 2000 years ago  --  but to YOU
• And do you believe that if you looked more often and more carefully
you might find, if not a special star in the sky,
other  ways in which God is pointing you towards a deeper faith,                                    
towards grace and truth, towards Jesus?

Isn’t that the example Pope Francis is setting for us?
Isn’t he looking for every way he can find  to point us towards God?
to our faith?  to living as Jesus calls us to live?

We might even say that Francis is a contemporary “star in the sky,”
drawing us to that place within ourselves
where Jesus is revealing himself to us
and asking for our gifts (not gold, frankincense and myrrh)
but the gifts of our heart:  our generosity, our mercy,
our love for God and for others, especially those in need.

The epiphany, the manifestation of who Jesus is in our lives,           
didn’t end with the visit of the magi - it only began there:
it has never ended.

So we shouldn’t worry if we didn’t do to well on the Epiphany Quiz,
if we weren’t sure how many visitors showed up in Bethlehem
and whether they were kings or wise men or magi.

It’s more important to know, to wonder, to look for
how the Lord is revealing himself to us, in our lives, today.

God’s love is made manifest this morning for us at this altar
where Jesus is revealed in the bread and cup of his Supper.

May Jesus who reveals himself in the sacrament of this table
help us all to see and to follow the stars, the signs he gives us,
leading us to know his light and his presence
and calling us to follow wherever he may lead us.


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