The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

This past Sunday at mass we celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, a celebration of Christ’s connection with the gentiles, which came in the form of the magi, the three wise men. The official day of celebration is today, January 6th.

They saw His star as it rose and they traveled from the east to find the “newborn king of the Jews.” They asked King Herod for direction in their quest to pay homage to this new King and finding this news troubling, Herod asked them to return after finding Jesus and tell him where the child was. The chief priests and scribes told the magi to find Jesus somewhere in Bethlehem of Judea.

After leaving Herod’s court, they rediscovered the star and followed it until it came to rest over the house in which the Holy Family resided. “They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10-11)

Holy Land Pilgrimage with Drew Mariani

These men, probably pagan priests or astronomers from a foreign land, traveled a great distance to see the baby Jesus. Some speculate that they traveled several hundred miles, while others say they must have traveled thousands. Back then, that would have taken them months to years. They did not know this baby. They did not subscribe to the laws of this land, religious or governmental. And yet, they left their homes, embarked on a life-altering journey, and carried their precious gifts a great distance so that they could honor the true king of the world. We are so blessed to have the Catholic Faith at our fingertips and easy access to Our Lord every day, but just how much are we willing to sacrifice to visit Him, honor Him, pray to Him?

On a recent segment of The Cale Clarke Show, Cale discussed the topic of the Epiphany and analyzed the significance of the magi’s background, Herod’s role, and the extraordinary factors in the magi’s journey.

Cale talked about the possible background of such characters in the story of the Epiphany, proposing that these men could very well have been Chaldeans from the Babylonian region. Chaldeans were known for their practice of stargazing, scholarly research, event prediction, and other practices based on celestial alignment. That makes it even more incredible that they were able to connect the new star with the birth of the king of the Jews.

As for that “new star”, it seems improbable that a new star would have materialized out of thin air, right? Well, according to modern astronomers and their studies of the planets and star paths, there were several remarkable things happening in space around the time of Jesus’s birth. In 7 B.C., Jupiter aligned with Saturn to form what would have looked like an unbelievably bright star. Then, just 4 years later, there was another alignment of planets, this time by Venus and Saturn. Any number of these or other celestial phenomena could have been responsible for leading the wise men to Bethlehem.

Of course, when they arrived in Judea and began asking for the king of the Jews, people thought that they were referring to King Herod who had received that title from the Roman Senate with the help of Marc Antony. They brought this news of a new king to him thinking he would be happy that he has an heir. “Herod at this point was getting pretty up there in age and his mental state was really, really not good. He had lashed out and he had killed several family members,” explained Cale. In fact, Herod was so insane that he set up a plan to have several prominent citizens murdered on the day that he died to guarantee that nobody would be celebrating his death.

Fortunately, the magi were warned in their dreams of Herod’s wickedness as they prepared to go home, and they were advised to return by another route. These men were not prophets of God, nor were they actual kings as the song suggests. They were not emperors or generals. They were not relatives or close loved ones of the Holy Family. But they, among all the people of the world, were some of the select few who came to pay homage to our king upon His birth.

Listen to the full talk below:

Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT

Holy Land Pilgrimage with Drew Mariani
John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.