“Christ is the Light of nations.” These are the first words of the Church's Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, which was promulgated at the Second Vatican Council. This weekend, we celebrate Christ as the Light of the whole world on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. This great feast has a great depth that may sometimes get lost in all of the beautiful traditions surrounding it. We sing the beloved hymn “We Three Kings,” we add the Wise Men to our nativity scenes, and, in many cultures, gifts are exchanged. But, behind all of these traditions, the true miracle of the Lord’s Epiphany shines.
Take a moment to fully appreciate how amazing the events we celebrate today truly are. These men came from the east – likely from Persia – following an astronomical phenomenon. They were magi, probably not magicians or sorcerers, but definitely astrologers and men who made it their business to read the signs displayed in creation. These men had no knowledge of Jesus, little if any knowledge of the beliefs of the Jewish people, and no connection to the Covenant which God had cut with His people. And yet, here they were, traversing enormous distances, confident that what they read in the sky was vitally important. As Pope Benedict stated on the Epiphany last year: “The wise men followed the star. Through the language of creation, they discovered the God of history.” These people, who were lost, were called by God to follow the Son to salvation. So, what we celebrate today is that, through Christ’s birth, the very face of creation tells the truth of what God has done for us. Now all nations can walk by God’s glorious light (cf. Is 60:3), and now “the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph 3:6).
In the Christ, the Light of the Nations, our God has invited all people to himself if they are only willing to open their eyes to see the truth written in the fabric of the world around them. However, we must know, as our Holy Father reminds us, “… the language of creation alone is not enough. Only God’s word, which we encounter in sacred Scripture, was able to mark out the magi’s path definitively. Creation and Scripture, reason and faith, must come together, so as to lead us forward to the living God.” So, today as you celebrate the dawning of the Light of the World, remember your call to delve deeply into the faith. Never stop learning, never stop discovering, pray hard, and keep your eyes open. We must be ready to meet those around us who are looking for answers in the world, so that we can connect the signs in creation to the truth that has been revealed to us. Jesus, Light of the Nations, make us ready to bear your light to the world.