Proclaiming Faith

"We Saw His Star"

January 4th, 2015 (see other dates)

The Epiphany of the Lord (solemnity)

Discussion Questions for Reading 1

The universal, world-wide Church takes shape and lives its life diocese by diocese, parish by parish, and family by family. The "you" in this reading is each one of these groups that make up the Church. Read the first line of this passage together (up to "shines upon you,") and in place of "Jerusalem," say the name of your diocese. Read the line again, replacing Jerusalem with the name of your parish. Then read it one last time, with each one saying the name of your family.

"The glory of the Lord" is another way of saying "the presence of the Lord,"

in Hebrew, the shekinah (SH-KEYE-NAH). How does the presence of the Lord shine upon your diocese, your parish, your family? How do you see the presence of the Lord in these parts of the universal Church? As a member of a family, a parish, a diocese, how can you bring the presence of the Lord to these parts of the Church? How is your family, your diocese, and your parish open to the needs of the whole world? How do you express your care and concern for the whole world?

Reading 1 1 Isaiah 60:1-6

Reading 1 Reflection

What a vision the prophet gives us of the way life should be, and one day shall be! He sees a new Jerusalem bursting in the future with the riches and abundant life of the Lord. Pilgrims from every nation stream into the holy city to praise God, who has called them home. Their hearts throb with wonder, joy, and gratitude.

For Christians, the new Jerusalem is understood as a symbol of the universal Church. The Church gathers God's people from east and west, north and south, to worship together and present their gifts to the Lord.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

This letter was written to the Ephesians. They were Gentiles. Imagine how they felt, being told that they were now "co-heirs with the Jews (God's chosen people) and sharers of the promise." They were no longer left out, but included. How can you carry this message of inclusiveness to your neighborhood, your parish, your school?

Reading 2 Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6

Reading 2 Reflection

A message similar to that of the first reading is given to the people of Ephesus: the good news of Jesus is meant for all people, not just a few. All people are called to share in the promise of Jesus Christ.

The word "epiphany" means "showing" or "manifestation." Once the feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate that Jesus Christ came, not just for his own family, or his own tribe, or for all the Jews, but for everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike. (Gentiles are non-Jews.) This was part of God's plan. The Gentiles of that time did not know God. They believed in idols, or in "the Fates," or in the emperor of Rome. But now they had been "in the dark" long enough. It was time to bring them (and us, their descendants) into the light of Christ! That is what the feast of Epiphany is all about.

Discussion Questions for Gospel

On our faith journeys, we, too, have to remain alert for the signs through which Jesus reveals his presence to us. His "stars" are all around us?in the beauty of creation, in the Church, in the arts and sciences, in the uniqueness of each person. How will you be alert to the "stars" around you? How can you let Jesus shine through you?

Gospel Matthew 2:1-12

Gospel Reflection

Today we celebrate the showing forth (epiphany) of Jesus to the nations beyond Israel. When astrologers, or magi, from the East saw a new star appear in the sky, they accepted it as a sign that a great leader had been born. Without knowing where the star would lead them or what they would find, the magi set out bearing gifts. Their faith and courage were rewarded when God revealed to them his own Son.

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

Gifts from the Heart

In many countries of the world, the feast of the Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on January 6, is a day for giving gifts. Distribute candy or cupcakes to the children in remembrance of the gifts the magi gave to the child Jesus. Using the reproducible master, remind the children that the best gifts are the gifts we give from the heart: kindness, friendship, listening to one another. Brainstorm a list of gifts of the heart. Invite the children to write about or draw them on the gift package.

We Saw His Star: The Story of the Magi

Read aloud the story of the magi from today's gospel (Matthew 2:1-12) in an expressive tone of voice. Use gestures and different voices for different characters. (Or, you may want to read this account from a children's Bible, if available.) Then tell the children that they will be acting out this story. Choose the characters: Narrator (yourself), Herod, Herod's advisers (two or three), and the magi (three). You may also want to include a "dream-figure," perhaps an angel, who tells the magi to go back to their own country by another way.

You may want to bring costuming for the role-play: collect large and smaller towels in various colors, as well as old curtains and drapes, safety pins, and costume jewelry. Colored towels and curtains can be worn as headpieces and capes. The kings (magi) will need three fancy boxes (perhaps gift-wrapped shoeboxes) for the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. You may want to make paper crowns ahead of time for each of the magi. You may also want to make a paper crown for Herod, with the name HEROD written on it, so as not to be confused with the three kings.

Proclaiming Faith Activities

An Epiphany Alert

The little "epiphanies," or revelations, of Jesus in our daily lives are God's gifts to us. If we are sleepwalking our way through the day, these gifts will remain unopened. For the next week, go on an Epiphany Alert. Will you be awake for the signs that Jesus is present in the world and in the people around you? Fill in the chart at the end of each day.

*Clues: Look for signs in nature, in silence, in children, in good books, films, TV shows or music, in the poor and the sick, in those who love you, in the life of the Church. Open your mind and heart to Light shining in unexpected places! Some ideas are given in italic type below.

Signs                                   What This Sign Reveals to Me

a stunning sunset                      God's glory surrounds us

an inspiring song or movie        God speaks through artistic gifts

a small child's smile                  God's love is always there for me

helping the homeless               We are guided by Jesus, the Light.

Reaching Out to the Nations

Today's readings challenge us to reach out to the people of all nations in the name of Jesus the Lord. Choose one of these projects and tell how you will do it.

  • Write to a missionary from your diocese. Find out what his or her needs are.
Suggestion: Get the name and address of a missionary from your parish or diocese. Follow through with letters and responses to specific needs.

  • Choose a country in Central or South America. Discover how the Church is working for justice and peace in that country. Look at Maryknoll Magazine or videos to learn about El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala. Share what you learn about the Church's ministry in these and other places.
  • Interview someone in your parish or community who comes from a country outside the United States. Find out about the gifts and needs of the Church in that country. Interview a refugee or an immigrant from Mexico, Northern Ireland, or Poland. Inform the parish of the Church's needs in those places.

Reach Out Prayer
If possible, light a candle and pray this prayer together:

Lord Jesus, you are a light to all nations.
Open our eyes to the ways we can make you known through the world.

For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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