Tuesday, January 6, 2015

EPIPHANY: THE OFFERING OF THE GENTILES

Bede Griffiths offering the Holy Qurbono
In the Western Church, the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. The Epiphany calls into remembrance the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. Christ’s Messiahship and Divinity is revealed to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, bring Him gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. The Gold represents Christ’s Divinity, the Frankincense His priestly ministry, and Myrrh, for His burial, represents His sacrifice. I would like to meditate on a couple of Bible passages assigned in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer for the Epiphany Season.


The Magi represent the Gentile priests. The Prophet Malachi speaks of the Eucharistic Sacrifice that will be offered by the Gentiles:


For from the rising of the sun to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of Host.” - Malachi 1.11 MEV


Three of the earliest witnesses outside of the New Testament, Ignatius of Antioch, the Didache, and Justin Martyr, all identify this passage with the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist.


Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles, “in the priestly service of God,” is to help the Gentiles to offer an acceptable Sacrifice:


I have written even more boldly to you on some points, to remind you, because of the grace that is given to me from God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” - Romans 15.15-16 MEV


Jesus is a Jewish Messiah, but He is also a Cosmic Christ. The message of the Gospel is that all humanity is in Christ.


In 1955, Dom Bede Griffiths, a Roman Catholic Benedictine from In England, moved to India “to find the other half of [his] soul.” Rather than importing a Western Culture to India, he sought to incarnate Christ in Indian culture. He switched from the Roman to the Syro-Malabar Rite, and offered the Holy Eucharist, using symbolism familiar to Hindus, in his Christian Ashram. He promoted interfaith dialogue, and sought to find the common ground between East and West.


For from the rising of the sun to its setting (from East to West), [the Lord’s Name] will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to [Lord’s name], and a pure offering.


- Lance

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