Prepare for Sunday Mass: For Epiphany: The revelation and manifestation of God become man

Each week in OSV Newsweekly, Carl Olson provides a thoughtful, relevant reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday in his "Opening the Word" column. The following is just an excerpt, but you can read the entire column here.

From Carl Olson:

The solemnity of the Epiphany is a celebration of the epiphaneia — the revelation and manifestation — of God become man. It is a celebration of the Incarnation; it is also a recognition that Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, is both the joyous center of history and the cause for division and discomfort. The prologue to John’s Gospel expresses this in stark terms: “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:9-11).

The light, as St. John wrote, shines in the darkness. However, if we cannot see and recognize the darkness — the sad and desperate state of a fallen humanity and a wounded creation — we will not see the light. The prophet Isaiah, in today’s first reading, touches on this in his exhortation, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” The city was in deep spiritual slumber, oblivious to both the darkness and light, existing in a sort of confusing mist: “See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples,” declared Isaiah, “but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.” We might ask: Wouldn’t it be obvious to all if God’s light was shining upon us? How could anyone miss such an event?

The French poet Paul Claudel, in his “Hymn for Epiphany,” delved into the mystery of spiritual sight and blindness. “But see!” he wrote, “the star has tarried, Mary holds God within her arms! … We have but to open our eyes and brush the mist away. ...” The mysterious magi saw the light in the darkness and sought it out. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives” (Image, $20.00), noted that the wise men from Persia used their religious and philosophical wisdom “to set off in the right direction”; they are open to the directives of God, even if it involves the difficulty of a long journey.

Read Olson's entire column to prepare for Sunday Mass.

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.