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THE EPIPHANY, OR MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST TO THE GENTILES.
THE kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Psalm lxxii. 10.
See also Numb. xxiv. 17. Isa. lx. 6.
S. Matt. ii. 1.
When JESUS was born in Bethlehem of Judæa, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all
Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them, where CHRIST should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus
it is written by the prophet, And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda :
for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go, and search diligently for the young Child, and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star which they saw in the east went before them, till it came and
stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of GOD in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
On the thirteenth day, JESUS manifested Himself to the Magi, who were Gentiles in fulfilment of the prophecy of Balaam, that a "Star should arise out of Jacob," &c., showing that the rising of a new star was a sign of CHRIST's birth. This the Magi knew by inspiration.
The Church of the Gentiles was this day received as the Bride of CHRIST. To the Jews He appeared on the day of His Birth, in the person of the Shepherds, and but few of them received the word of GOD. This is peculiarly the festival of the Gentile Church.
The star disappeared, when the Magi entered the holy city, for many reasons.
1st. For the Magi-that they who had been admo
nished by the celestial sign, might be confirmed by the Prophetic word, which they heard from the Jewish Doctors.
2ndly. For CHRIST's sake-that His Birth might be proclaimed in the Royal City, and the prophecy respecting the place of His Nativity be shown to be accomplished.
3rdly. That the apathy of the Jews might stand condemned, by their zeal; because, when the Gentiles diligently, and from far, sought CHRIST, they would not move a step to seek Him.
4thly. That in not receiving Him, they might be without excuse, since they had notice of His coming, inasmuch as the Magi showed them the time, as they showed the Magi the place of His Nativity. In this was prefigured the future devout reception of the Faith of CHRIST, by the Gentiles-and the rejection of it by the Jews, the greater part of whom remained in unbelief.
Herod was troubled, when he heard of the Child. What will be the tribunal of the Judge, when proud kings are terrified at the cradle of the Infant? Let kings now fear Him, sitting at the right-hand of His FATHER, Whom the impious king feared while hanging on His mother's breast. Herod and the Jews were told that CHRIST should be born in Bethlehem of Judah, and yet they did not go out to see Him. Like the builders of Noah's Ark, who provided others with the means of escape, and yet perished themselves in the deluge; they showed the Fountain of Life to others, and yet died themselves of thirst-like good preachers and evil livers.
Herod's message to the Magi was, to bring him word, when they had found the Child, that he might go and worship Him. He was promising devotion, even when he was whetting his sword-such are hypocrites-they hide their malice under the cloak of humility, and crucify the Son of GOD afresh. Such are they who abuse the Holy Mystery of the Communion, they counterfeit devotion, at the same time that they kill Him as much as in them lieth. He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, is guilty of the Body and Blood of CHRIST. 1 Cor. ix. 27.
They see Him as They fall down none can truly
The Magi worship, and bend the knees both of soul and body to the Child JESUS, and reverently adore Him as the True God in the flesh. They honour Him as King, and worship Him as GOD. Man, they acknowledge Him as GOD. in token of humility, without which worship for every worshipper should lay aside all pomp and self-confidence, that the humiliation which he shows by his body, he may bear in his soul before the Eyes of GOD; and offering Him the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart, may commit his soul to Him to be cured.
How great must have been the exultation of the Blessed Virgin, when she saw Him, Whom she had lately born, worshipped as GOD! How great was God! the faith of these Magi, to believe, that little Child, so meanly clad, with His poor Parents, in so abject a place, without company, without attendants, without any furniture, to believe that that Child was a King, and the true GOD! They believed Him to be both; for they would never have worshipped a Child, had
they believed Him only such: they knew His Divinity by Divine revelation, and they worship Him, and offer Him their presents. But where is the purple of the King? is it those mean swaddling clothes in which He is wrapped? Where is His diadem? But ye see Him truly in the diadem with which His mother crowned Him-in the sackcloth of our mortality. But whence is it that ye worship CHRIST? Ye have not found so great faith in Israel. Ye are not offended at the vile habitation of the stable, nor the poor cradle of the Manger. Ye are not scandalized at the presence of the poor Mother, nor the Infancy of the Child. What are ye doing, O Magi? what are ye doing? Worshipping a suckling in a vile hut, in vile clothing! Is He GOD? Surely, GOD is in His holy Temple. GoD's throne is in heaven! Do ye then seek Him in the lap of His Mother? What are you doing in offering Him gold? Is He then a King? Where is His regal Palace? Where His throne? Where the crowds of His Royal court? Is His Palace a stable? Is His throne a Manger? How did wise men become such fools as to worship a mean Child? despicable from His age, and the poverty of His parents? They became fools, that they might be made wise: and the Spirit taught them before, what He afterwards preached to the Apostles, "He that will be wise, let him become a fool, that he may be wise." (1 Cor. iii. 18.)
Was it not to be feared that they would be scandalized, and think themselves mocked when they saw so much unworthy of a King? From the royal city, where they conjectured the King was to be sought; they are directed to Bethlehem, a little village. They