Headline: The Epiphany: Between the Tyrant and the Magi

Posted on: 2015-01-10

The judgment of man

According to Robert M. Pirsig, "Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all". The message of peace on earth announced by the angels at the birth of Jesus Christ was not immediately shared by all far and near. At the time Jesus was born, Herod was King in that territory. He was nothing near being a peaceful king and he showed that ugly hand as quickly as he heard of the birth of the baby Jesus, destined to be king of all Israel. How true it is that a man's judgment can never be better than his information! Herod considered Jesus a threat because all he could see was a  rival to his throne, a threat to his own interests. He had no knowledge or concern that he was actually fighting against the savior of the whole world long promised by the creator of the world himself. His thoughts were not right and he could produce no good actions

The epiphany and Herod's plot

The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in the Church as the occasion on which Jesus Christ was manifested to the world by the guidance of a star. The Bible related how the Magi  from far away arrived in Jerusalem seeking the new born baby who was to be king of Israel. The Magi had followed the star in order to find the light of the world. Herod flipped when he heard it and his dark side burst through. He was greatly troubled and the rest of Jerusalem with him. He called the chief priests and the scribes of his people together asking them how to locate the Messiah. He tried to connive with the Magi: "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word so that I too may go and do him homage" (Matt. 2:8). The Magi sought the light, Herod sought to quench it. Would the Almighty God who had promised to give it through the prophets down the ages allow it to happen? (Is 9:1-6)

God intervened to save his son

Why do the nations rage, among peoples this useless murmurings? They arise the kings of the earth. princes plot against the Lord and his anointed. Come let us break their fetters. Come let us cats off their yoke" (Ps. 2:1-3). God would not allow man sabotage his promise. That prophecy of psalm 2 had to be fulfilled. Leaving Herod, the Magi were led by the star to the baby Jesus. They adored him as king and gave him gifts. Then as they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another way. Herod could do nothing about their decision and so the powerful ended up confounded. Evil however surrenders not so easily. Herod ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and environs under two years old  hoping to kill Jesus and provoking widespread lamentation for the souls of the innocent. Such is the intensity of man's brutality in attempting to stop God's will from coming to pass as we see around us. Can any man achieve such a futile ambition? "The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord is laughing them to scorn. Then he speaks to them in anger, terrifies them in his wrath: I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain" (Ps 2: 4-6).


The triumph of God's will

But the son of God outlived the tyrant of his time. Having been taken to Egypt on the admonition of an angel to Joseph, his guardian, Jesus was brought back to the land of Israel after the death of Herod. Royal tyranny lost the battle against an innocent helpless baby born in a manger.  So it has been with the Hitlers, Stalins, Idi Amins, Abachas and other power-hungry dictators of this world. That Jesus Christ always identified with the least, the last, the lost gives new strength today to the hope of all oppressed peoples of the world today, especially those who suffer under the tyranny of despots and manipulative systems. God shall intervene for these people in the time he has chosen!

The legacy of the epiphany

The epiphany evokes a new decision on the part of us all. The Magi sided with God and abandoned Herod, to his evil. Theirs is a valuable invitation for all to follow Jesus the prince of peace. We need such godly leaders today who would choose truth and life and reject the Herods of death and darkness. There is no better way to show our Christianity today than to turn our backs on the forces of evil, corruption and death among us. In the midst of the insecurity and violence of the moment in Nigeria the epiphany speaks strongly of God's imminent intervention in the affairs of the country. All must pray more for its coming for the prayers of God's people shall not be in vain. The first reading of epiphany Sunday delivers that prediction clearly too. "Arise and shine for your light has come, and the glory  of the Lord has risen upon you... then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you" (Is 60: 16ff). As the general elections in Nigeria draw near may we all recognize the star that leads us to see the face of God  and the fulfilment of his promise to save his beloved ones even here in Nigeria.