magi on camels following the star

The Epiphany of the Lord According to Matthew

The Epiphany of the Lord is an infancy narrative, an account of magi from the East, observing a star and following it to meet a newborn king.

The Gospel Account

The newborn king is Jesus, with Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. The Magi arrive in Jerusalem to consult with King Herod and learn of the birthplace of the new king.

The magi’s visit sets off an alarm with Herod and his court. The scribes discover the town of Bethlehem as the place where the child would be born. The Magi leave Jerusalem, rediscover the star, and find the baby king. Then, they return home by another way. You can find the story of the Epiphany of the Lord in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, verses 1-12.

Click on this link to view the Gospel passage using the New American Bible translation.

The Five Decades

When you pray the five decades of this Rosary Reflection, use these five events from the Gospel.

First Decade: The Magi Arrive (Matthew 2:1-2)

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

Second Decade: Herod’s Trouble (Matthew 2:3-6)

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Third Decade: Look in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:7-9a)

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out.

Fourth Decade: Finding Jesus (Matthew 2:9b-11)

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star,  and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Fifth Decade: The Magi Return Home Another Way (Matthew 2:12)

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

What to Remember

This Gospel story shows that the birth of Jesus is meant for all nations to discover and worship God.

An “epiphany” is both a manifestation and a discovery. God reveals to the Magi that a newborn king is born; the star is a symbol of nature’s acknowledgment of this extraordinary event.

As followers of Jesus, we are invited to discover the presence of Jesus in all of life, especially in the newborn and those seeking God’s presence.

When you feel lost or disillusioned with life’s complexity, tune in to the “star” – God’s way of manifesting a better destination ahead.

Ask Jesus to help you discover His presence in all moments of your daily journey through life.

God will arrange those special moments of grace that let you encounter His love for you.

What to Pray For

  • For more faith and courage to look for the “star” that points the way to Jesus.
  • That the Holy Spirit will open your heart and eyes to see the wonderful plan of God unfolding in your life.
  • For family, friends, and neighbors who are seeking more meaning and purpose in life.
  • For the Magi among us, who seek to share their treasures and wisdom, that they will experience the joy and presence of God in their midst.
  • That those like King Herod who want to control their position and power, to the end of hurting others, will seek out God’s will and become messengers of love and peace.

Feel free to pray the rosary using the Gospel when you feel a need to rise above the noise of distractions and seek out the peace of Jesus.

When This Gospel Appears

The traditional date for the feast day of the Epiphany of the Lord is January 6. In the United States, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8

Matthew’s Gospel account of The Epiphany of the Lord is proclaimed during the Mass of the day.

The most recent appearance is on Sunday, January 8, 2023.

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