Sunday 6 January 2019

Epiphany of the Lord

Word for Today
The Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12

Rejoice with joy

They were overjoyed, literally, “they ardently rejoiced with great joy." In Greek this verse reads: chàiro charàn megàlen sfòdra, “I rejoice, I am gladdened, I am honored by a great joy.” The noun charàn is the internal object of chàiro and means “joy, cheerfulness,” which could also be  translated with: “I rejoice with joy, I am honored by honor, I am gladdened by cheer.” The verb chàiro means honor, royal homage, adoration, feeling of peace, pleasure, the highest satisfaction and perfect contentment.
The Magi kneeled in adoration when they saw the child lying in Mary's arms because they recognized that He was God. Theirs was a gesture full of honor and devotion, respect and holy awe. That same gesture has been repeated endlessly, even if in different ways, throughout human history, to worship true or supposed divinities. Human beings have always knelt to worship whatever they considered to be a divinity. There is nothing new about this.
But in this case everything is new. Something that has never happened before is taking place in that scene. Mankind has always prostrated itself before what it considered divine; it has always knelt down with awe, with respect, with devotion, with holy zeal, but also out of reverence, innate fear, a sense of obligation or of guilt, or for fear of retaliation, out of piety or spiritual evolution, or as a cry for help, healing or protection, a plea of salvation. But this is the first time that adoration, kneeling before the divinity, coincided, as it did for the Magi, with joy, endless joy, without feelings of guilt or fear.
Everything changed completely and forever. The Magi kneeled before the child Jesus-God for the first time and they were not afraid, only joyful. The original Greek underlines that they were overjoyed. Why? Because the Magi realized that the child was not just God, God Himself, but that He was also and endlessly the God of peace and compassion, of grace and beauty, of endless Love. That child is the Almighty because of His everlasting mercy and loving presence. He is the sweetest Lamb of God. How is it possible then not to rejoice ardently endlessly prostrated before Him?