An epiphany can be a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, or an intuitive grasp of reality through a particular event. However, the Epiphany overshadows all other epiphanies. The Magi recognized this, which is why they simply prostrated themselves and gave Him homage. The Baby became the focus of their existence.
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)
What happened? The Creator became a creature. The Master of the Universe became a toddler. The dawn of salvation had come. The star which guided them to Bethlehem had set and the Son had risen. The nexus between God and man had become flesh and was dwelling among them.
Naturally, the Wise Men were overjoyed at the prospect of witnessing this spectacular event. Think of the joy that any person feels when he sees a newborn. He sees another person, created uniquely in God's image and likeness certainly, but just another person. Still, people get excited, they even start speaking in a different language with odd guttural ga-gas and goo-goos. Imagine the Magi seeing Christ in the arms of the Blessed Mother and knowing with blissful certitude that it was not just another person, not just another cute kid sitting in His mother's arms. Rather, it was the One for Whom they had been waiting and hoping. He had arrived.
And the event was epiphanic. Their lives would never be the same. Once they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Christ child was present on earth, that the relationship with heaven had changed, never again would they look upon the stars and see a distance that could not be crossed. From that day forth, they saw an expansive sky which led them to God, rather than isolating them from Him. Remember, these men were not yokels seeing the big city for the first time. They had studied and then traveled solely to find the truth and the Truth led them to Himself. Oh, the great joy of a mystery revealed!
The curiosity which led them to seek Christ had been satisfied in the birth of the Messiah. Their response proves it: they gave the best they had gold, frankincense, and myrrh from their material stock, adoration from their hearts as they prostrated themselves, and finally, obedience to the angelic message that saved the boy from the wrath of Herod.
There is no need to gild the lily here. The birth of Jesus surpasses all other births. The simple fact of the matter is that God, who had every reason to hate us, reject us, and/or punish us, so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son. The greatest tragedy in history would have been for no one to have realized it. But the visit of the Magi teaches us all that the Son of Man descended from heaven and chose to dwell among us. The greatest personal tragedy would be for you to ignore it.
Fr. Gee is parochial vicar at Our Lady of Angels Parish, Woodbridge, Virginia.