Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today, we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord.
“Epiphany” from Greek means “apparition of the Lord God”.
God is pure spirit, thus He is invisible—unseen to human eyesight. As the Almighty Creator of all forms of beings, He is by no way subject to human scientific observation and research. As a result, we, human beings, are incapable of seeing God. Our human mind is so limited and imperfect that we can never, by our own efforts, know God and love Him. Saint John, in his first Letter, Chapter 4, verse 10, confirms that truth: “ in this is love, he wrote: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.”
We are unable, therefore, to go to God. The great Patriarch Abraham told the fallen millionaire in the Gospel according to Saint Luke, Chapter 16, verse 26, about the long distance between heaven and earth: “A great chasm, he said, was established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.”
So, in order that man and God can meet, it is God Who has made the first move to push the project of the historic summit between heaven and earth to its realization.
The coming of the Son of God into the world, the apparition of the invisible God into our material world has happened beyond the expectation of the human race.
The coming of God into our human society can be compared with a royal visit to the home of a poor farmer. To avoid any inconvenience and embarrassment on the part of the poor man, the powerful monarch in the form of a poor farmer, and without any appearance of power and might, walked on foot to meet his subject in his humble and miserable home.
This has really occurred today when God came to us in the appearance of a lovely baby, laying fragile, powerless in a manger, very easy to approach, to see, to observe, to touch and to embrace. Again, Saint John, the Disciple whom Jesus loved, wrote in His First Letter, Chapter 1, verses from 1 to 4: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, , what we looked upon, and touched with our hands, concerns the Word of life—for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”
But there, under the humble and simple appearance of a little boy, we discover the shining glory of God, the greatness of His merciful and unconditional love.
More than twenty centuries have gone past, yet humanity is still all the more caught by surprise after surprise, amazement after amazement, upon approaching closer and closer the mystery of the Epiphany of the Lord. Amen.
Fr. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Nhut, O.P.