YOUR STAR MUST SHINE
The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek epiphainen, a verb that means “to shine upon,” “to manifest,” or “to make known.” Thus, the feast of the Epiphany celebrates the many ways that Christ has made Himself known to the world, mainly the three events that manifested the mission and divinity of Christ: the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12), the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11), and the miracle at Cana (John 2:1-11).
Epiphany Day is also known as the Feast of The visit of the Magi. Magi itself is a Greek word which means wise Men. So Epiphany in the Catholic Church is the day the Wise Men (three) from the East, visited Jesus.
The story of the Wise men is often linked to the star is mentioned in Numbers 24, and is prophesied by an unusual character, called Balaam.
Balaam seems to have been a sort of traveling soothsayer and he was contracted by Balak to curse the Israelites. Balak was the king of Moab at that time, and the Israelites were moving through Moabite territory as part of their long sojourn to the Promised Land. The Israelites were not going to settle in Moab, so the Moabites had the opportunity, as had the Edomites and Amorites before them, to show hospitality to the Israelites and enable them to go on their way (Numbers 20:17-18; 21:22-23). Like the Edomites and Amorites, the Moabites were to disobey God, but they were to do so by contracting this magician named Balaam. The account of what happened to Balaam — how he was commissioned, how he was warned about his behavior by God, how God rebuked him by making his donkey talk and how his every attempt to curse the Israelites simply led to them being blessed — can be found in Numbers 22 through 24. In one of Balaam’s attempts to curse the Israelites, he ended up uttering this prophecy:
I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult. (Numbers 24:17)
the concept of the scepter, a symbol of kingship, refers not only to David, but to David’s greater son, and refers back to Genesis:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Genesis 49:10)
This passage from Genesis refers to the coming Messiah, to be descended from Judah so, by inference, we can suggest that Numbers 24:17 also refers to the coming Messiah.
The “scepter” represents the reign of a King. The “star” represents the light and the glory that emanate from Him. Although Balaam confessed that he saw Him, it was only from far off. In one sense, the King was already among Israel, but in another sense, His time had not yet come. However, the Magi understood otherwise. “His star” (Mat. 2:2) had finally appeared to them, heralding His arrival, and they knew that they had to make haste to worship Him.
That same star which could not be extinguished by Balaam, Herod tried to extinguish. But God in a dream advised the wise men to go through another road. Your star can be your strength, a unique possession and a potential. But many of us are not aware of this. You have a star, I have a star; When Jesus was born His star was seen in the east by three wise men who had no relational connection with Jesus. Most times you don’t see the star but others see it.
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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