5th January 2024

On January 6th we celebrate The Epiphany. An ‘epiphany’ is a moment of revelation and so we remember Jesus being revealed to the wider non-Jewish world, represented by the Magi, as described in Matthew’s Gospel. We imagine there were three Magi, because three gifts were given. Somewhere down the ages these Wise Men have been named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar.

We call them ‘Wise Men’, but what was it that made the Wise Men wise?

One feature of their wisdom was that they saw beyond superficial appearances. An unwise judgement would surely have quickly dismissed Mary and Joseph and their baby as an ordinary and insignificant family.

If the Wise Men had judged by appearances they would have disregarded the Holy Family as nobodies, but they had the wisdom to look beyond the surface and to see that there was more to this than meets the eye.

The experience of the Wise Men reminds us that appearances can be deceptive. Those who look ordinary and insignificant and of no consequence might in reality be the most important people of all.

The Wise Men were also wise because they knew it was not all about them. They had a key part to play, but they were content to know that they were not the central characters in the story. They humbly recognised that the child in the manger was more of a king than they would ever be and so they joyfully bowed down and worshipped him and gladly offered their gifts. It was all about him, not them.

What a contrast to King Herod. For Herod everything was about him and if necessary he would murder the innocent to preserve his position and power. But the Wise Men were not thinking about themselves. They had come with gifts to give and so, on coming to the house and seeing the child, they bowed down and worshipped him.

So, let’s resolve that in the coming year we will become a little wiser by refusing to judge by appearances and by making Jesus the central character in our story.

With best wishes for the coming year,
Reverend Stephen