Sundays in January, February, March 2022

As the Church began the Synodal process in Advent, it was emphasised that listening was to be a major element in the process. The preparatory document issued last autumn had an important section entitled ‘Listening to the Scriptures’. A significant place where the community of the Church listens to the Scriptures together is in the weekly celebration of the Eucharist. The following reflections are offered as a help to that process, so that the whole community, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit may continue to discern where the Spirit is leading the people of God. Robert Draper is priest of Sacred Heart and St Aldhelm, Dorset.

Sunday 2 January
The Epiphany of the Lord (solemnity)
Isaiah 60.1–6
Psalm 71
Ephesians 3.2–3,5–6
Matthew 2.1–12

The Benedictus antiphon for morning prayer in the prayer of the Church uses the word ‘today’ to tie together the three great epiphanies we will be celebrating over the next three weeks: the visit of the Magi, the baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana. We might regard them as chronologically separate, but the eyes of faith see them as together revealing the presence of the incarnate God in the world. The word ‘epiphany’ is used of a dramatic showing forth or manifestation, and these three events make known the reality of God present in Jesus. Today’s feast is based on Matthew’s account of the wise men from the East who have seen heavenly signs and come seeking out the ‘king of the Jews’. This event transforms the simple stable scene into a cosmic event through the star; a universal event by the presence of the pagans who come to pay homage; and an event within salvation history through the interpretation of Herod’s chief priests and scribes. In one sense, it is only the exotic travellers to whom the manifestation is made, but through Matthew’s Gospel the revelation is seen as a heavenly reality which will speak to all people and fulfil the great promises made to Israel. Matthew paints the scene in Bethlehem on an immense canvas, just in case we overlook just what is being proclaimed when we hear the Christmas story.

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