A happy feast day to you all: the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Today we celebrate the Christ's first manifestation to the gentiles through the holy Magi.
The Magi have always fascinated me: tradition accords them the names Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior. They were Persians, priests of the Zoroastrian religion, who saw the sign in the heavens which announced the birth of a divine king. Their philosopher-founder, Zoroaster, predicted, in the manner of the ancient Sybils, the coming of the Saviour, pointing out that a star would lead to the "mysterious child" who is "the Almighty Word who created the heavens."
According to Christian tradition, the Magi were converted by St Thomas when he ministered in Persia, and they were said to have died as martyrs. St Helen, in her quest to find the holy places and relics in the Holy Land, sent a delegation into Persia to find the tomb of the Magi. The tomb located, she had the remains translated to Constantinople, from where they were brought to Milan and then to Cologne, where they now rest in the cathedral.
As we celebrate the solemnity today, we might remember to put ourselves in the place of the Magi, and there come to encounter anew the Lord Jesus who came down to us. One of the most beautiful meditations on this "spirituality of the Magi", is that given by Blessed John Paul II in his last message to the young people of the world for World Youth Day 2005. I think it is worth reading.
As we celebrate, let us also remember today Mgr Charles Brown, the new nuncio to Ireland, who is being ordained an Archbishop in Rome by Pope Benedict. As he receives the fullness of the priesthood, and prepares for his mission, may the Lord grant him many graces and blessings.