This week we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, the revealing of the Savior to the Magi. The word epiphany means manifestation and for Christians, these manifestations are God revealing his light and presence through Jesus to the world. There are many epiphanies in Scripture, including the Baptism of Jesus and the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana.
As I meditated on this prayer, the Collect for the Vigil of the Epiphany of the Lord, I saw Epiphany not through the journey of the Magi, but through the star.
May the splendor of your majesty, O Lord, we pray, shed its light upon our hearts, that we may pass through the shadows of this world and reach the brightness of our eternal home. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
The splendor of the majesty of God is found lying in a manger, it is Jesus. Splendor is the same word in English and Latin and can be thought of as magnificence.
The light of this splendor is faith. In his encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis writes, "The light of Faith: this is how the Church’s tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Jesus.”(1)
In the Latin form of the prayer, “Shed its light” or illustret means to illuminate.
This is where it sunk in to me that you and I are the star. When we read the story of the Magi through our natural vision, we learn that the light of the star draws the Magi to follow it. They probably do most of their travel at night. Their faith leads to anticipation and hope. I would bet they have a sprinkling of excitement mixed in with it, as well.
Now let's look at the story through supernatural eyes. The light of the star is God's faith in our hearts. We shine or illuminate; this is the same light that captured the hearts of the Magi. We pass through the shadows of this world with this light radiating in us.
Notice that the prayer does not say that there will be no shadows, or tests and trials. Even when Jesus lived on earth, there was still sin in the world. However, when we possess the light of faith in our hearts, we can see life’s trials in their proper light, through the light of God’s grace.
Will our passing through the shadows be easy? God has never promised us that, however, he did promise that it would be worth it. He promised that He would never leave us. He promised that when we reach our eternal home, the light in our hearts will become the brightness of eternity.
There is one more thing about this light. The light of the Star of Bethlehem attracted the Magi and led them to Jesus. How bright is your light? If someone is looking for a light in their darkness, will they be able to find you? If so, where, to who, will you lead them?
Keeping the light shining bright in our hearts doesn’t just happen. It requires some maintenance on our part, and maintenance is free. All it costs us is a little time and time spent in the presence of God is never wasted.
Thanks for praying with me,