This season begins and ends in light. From the heavenly star to the radiant robes of transfiguration, Epiphany is about revelation, the kind of sudden brightness that lights up the landscape of a mind or a community or a whole social order. The light reveals, but not passively; it summons and sends.
These readings are rich in callings. Exiles, altar boys, prophets, and disciples - all are bidden. Come home, come and see, come follow. When Jesus appears, things get set in motion. Though we may not see where it all leads, we already have our marching orders. This is a light that moves us.
January 2, Epiphany: Feast of Racial Reconciliation
Psalm 72:1-14, Isaiah 60:1-6, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12
So abruptly does Isaiah of the exile announce a dawning of light in history that the scholars are prone to doubt this is the same voice as in the preceding chapters.
Surely the one who recites that drumbeat litany of transgression and judgment, whose promises sound more like threats, cannot be the same person who turns around to testify the dawn of return. A new writer must have stepped into the breach. The light of hope could not break so suddenly in heart or history. Only an incrementally progressive hope, something more akin to a studied optimism, is realistic. Judgment and true hope ought not be so closely pressed, or the one arise from the other.
Well, surprise. There it is (one may wager) in the prophet's single voice.
The homecoming envisioned is so overwhelming that the whole world seems swept along in its movement. Universal, as they say, and bordering on cosmic. A pilgrimage, general and complete, is in motion. It is not merely exiles who make for Jerusalem, but peoples and rulers, nations and authorities all. The scattering of exile is healed in a global accompaniment. Its theft is reversed by gift.