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Thought of the day
Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Epiphany of the Lord - Solemnity
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"They prostrated themselves and did him homage"


Saint Bernard (1091-1153), Cistercian monk and doctor of the Church 
1st Sermon for the Epiphany
"They prostrated themselves and did him homage"

God’s intention was not only to come down to earth but to become known there; not only to be born but to be recognised. In fact, it is with this recognition in mind that we hold this celebration of the Epiphany, the great day of his manifestation. For it was today that the Magi came from the East in search of the Sun of Justice at its rising (Mal 3,20), he of whom we read: “Behold a man whose name is the Orient,” (Zec 6,12 Vul.). Today they have adored the Virgin’s newborn child, following the guidance of a new star. What great cause for joy do we not find here, my brethren, as also in those words of the apostle Paul: “The kindness and generous love of God our Saviour have appeared,” (Tit 3,4)…

What is this you are doing, you Magi? What is this you are doing? Are you adoring an infant at the breast in a wretched hovel, wrapped in miserable rags? Can a child such as this really be God? Yet, “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven.” (Ps 11 [10],4) while you are looking for him in a common stable, held in his mother’s arms! Whatever are you doing? Why are you offering him gold? Could such as one as this be king? Where, then, is his royal court, his throne, his crowd of courtiers? Can a stable be a palace, a crib a throne, Mary and Joseph members of his court? How on earth could wise men be so crazy as to adore a baby, as contemptible by reason of his age as for the poverty of his family?

Mad? Yes, they have become so in order to be wise. The Holy Spirit has taught them already what the apostle Paul would later proclaim: “Whoever would be wise, let him become a fool. For since the world, in all its wisdom, did not come to know God in his Wisdom, it has pleased God to save those who believe through the foolishness of the Gospel we proclaim, (cf 1Cor 1,21)… And so they prostrate themselves before this poor child; they do him homage as to a king; they adore him as a God. He who outwardly guided them by a star has cast his light into the interior of their hearts.

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