January 7, 2024

Dear Parishioners of Saint Polycarp,

The liturgy for this weekend (January 07, 2024) celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord Jesus. Epiphany is a Greek word that denotes “manifestation”—that is, Our Savior Jesus manifests Himself to the Gentiles, who are represented through the three magi (astrologers ~ in the old liturgical tradition, these magi or astrologers were known as three kings).

The Gospel of Matthew describes that, at the birth of Jesus, three magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem, asking: “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star at the rising and have come to do him homage”. Of course, King Herod was furious and fearful upon hearing this question. He summoned his best chief priests and scribes who told him that, according to the prophetic writing, the newborn King or the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. However, King Herod had an evil intention. He wanted the magi to go and ascertained for him the exact location of the birth of this newborn King, so that he would later go and kill this newborn King. Despite his secretive and evil intention, God always had His own way. God sent angels to inform the magi that Herod wanted to kill the baby, and they ought to return to their homeland by a different route.

As for the magi, the Gospel describes that, after having received instructions from Herod, they went to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant Jesus wrapped in a swaddling cloth and laying in a manger. They opened their treasures and offered them to the Infant. They offered Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The three magi were not Jews. They were foreigners from the East. They were people who had a genuine intention to search for God, namely the infant Jesus, the Messiah, or the Star of Bethlehem. In its true sense, they represent us. Our ancestors were not Jewish, but the Christian faith was revealed to our ancestors and to us.

Lastly, from a liturgical perspective, the Feast of the Epiphany and the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus mark the conclusion of the Christmas Season. After this, we return to the liturgical schedule of Ordinary Time, beginning with the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, which falls on January 08 this year.

I hope and pray that all of us learn from the magi to always search and seek for the Messiah or the newborn King in our lives. Together with my brother priests, deacons, religious sisters, and staff, I wish you a blessed and faith-filled Epiphany. Mary (Mother of God), Saint Joseph, and Saint Polycarp: Pray for us!

Father Viet Peter Ho


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