Reflection: Solemnity of The Epiphany of the Lord

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering


Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Is.60:1-6; Ps.71; 2nd Reading – Eph.3:2-3, 5-6; Gospel – Mt.2:1-12]

“… WISE MEN …”

The story of “the three kings” is well known around the world. Through apocryphal books, we also know their names: Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. We also know that they came on camels, and at least one of them was dark skinned…

How does this story correspond to what is found in the gospel narrative about them?

Matthew, the only gospel writer to mention them, says that “some wise men came to Jerusalem from the East”. He does not say anything about the number of them, their social status or their nationality. The number was traditionally introduced because of the three different gifts that were brought to the child. Matthew does not mention that they were “three” or that they were “kings”. They are introduced simply as “some wise men”. If we keep in mind that they were following a star – a special star – the star of the infant king of the Jews, we can deduce that their wisdom has something to do with the stars! Furthermore, since they managed to see what they predicted through their astrological knowledge, i.e. the birth of a “king of the Jews” through this particular star… we can understand their wisdom to decide to follow the star which indicates the birth of a king…

What is this kind of wisdom that the gospel writer wants to indicate?

As we continue to read Mathew’s gospel, we notice the contrast between these wise men and the perturbation felt by King Herod and the whole of Jerusalem. These wise men knew exactly what they wanted to achieve and they were sure about it. King Herod and the whole of Jerusalem were perturbed when they heard the wise men’s enquiry and had to summon up all the chief priests and the scribes, who in turn told King Herod about what was written by the prophets about this infant king.

On the one hand we have King Herod, the chief priests, the scribes and the whole of Jerusalem who knew what was written in the Holy Books about the Christ and where he was to be born. They knew that this “king of the Jews” was also the “Christ” and knew what he had come to do, i.e. “be a leader who will shepherd the people of God, Israel”… In other words this “Infant King” was born amongst his people, to a people that already knew about him but did not do anything to know him and therefore they did not recognise him when he was already among them.

On the other hand we have the wise men who came from the East (from where the sun rises) because they saw the sign of this infant King – the star – and beyond their astrological knowledge, they had the wisdom to read the signs from heaven (i.e. “the stars” and “the dwelling place of God”), signs that led to Jesus, “the King of the Jews”. The wise men accepted, followed and fulfilled what was already said about Jesus in the Old Testament.

“Lord, give us enough wisdom to recognise your signs and your presence among us.  Thank You Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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