A reflection for the feast of the Epiphany

Emily Davis reflects on the readings for January 7, 2024.
Catholic Voices

Readings (Year B):

Isaiah 60:1 – 6
Psalms 72:1 – 2, 7 – 8, 10 – 11, 12 – 13
Ephesians 3:2 – 3a, 5 – 6
Matthew 2:1 – 12

Reflection: We are called to work for the kingdom

In my ninth-grade theology class, we focus a lot on the seemingly backwards nature of the kingdom of God. We open the scriptures and encounter again and again the sharing of power, the tenderness of God, and the difficulty of the command to love. Often my students struggle to understand why God would make the choice to surrender such majesty. They show their most human instincts as they challenge the notion that letting go of power and control would be good in any way. They hope for a God who would bring deliverance and peace immediately, and they worry about the success of this strategy. Can human beings really be trusted? Doesn’t it seem to be glaringly obvious that our world is incapable of caring for itself? And are these not the same concerns we have as we continue to be immersed in the joy of Christmas, amidst our suffering world? 

Here on epiphany Sunday, our readings paint a glorious picture of God’s kingdom. We begin with Isaiah proclaiming the glory of the Lord, who will deliver Jerusalem from darkness. The Psalm will sing this same hope and joy that the king has come. And finally, our second reading will usher in the gentiles, welcoming all that have faith to the table of plenty.

The promises of God are great; why are we stuck so far from them? Our world is marked by terrible suffering. War and genocide are used to maintain power and control. The helpless and innocent are most at risk and in great need of protection. People are hungry, lonely, grieving, and lost. We seem to have strayed quite far from the kingdom we have been promised. But are we lost, perhaps, not because the king is absent, but because we are trying to hold onto all power and control rather than being open to the ways in which we might be called to serve?


While our readings throughout the Christmas season remind us of the humility of the Holy Family and the sanctity of this infant child, are we really attuned to what his coming means? Are we ready for what this might ask of us?

This year, when I read of Herod’s worries and the magi’s gratitude in response to the Holy Family’s vulnerability, I wonder what our world might look like if we acted more like the magi and less like Herod. What if we worked diligently to search for the sacred? What if we approached the meek with great gifts of honor and praise? What if we refused to bend to power and violence, and instead fought ardently for the protection of the innocent? 

I hope that this Epiphany, we might recognize anew that our God is one who calls us to compassionate action and that we might join in the process of making the kingdom of God more present in our world. Faith in the power of surrender is essential for the peace we so desperately need. I pray we might find the way of the magi in our world and that in humility and gratitude we will renew this partnership with the divine as we work together for the salvation of the world. 

About the author

Emily Davis

Emily Davis is a graduate of Catholic Theological Union and a high school theology teacher at DePaul College Prep in Chicago.

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