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  • Writer's pictureLaura G. Hancock

The Particular Mystery of Epiphany

I used to sit under the stars at night with my dad. Growing up, there was a beautiful expanse of sky that opened to us from the midst of the woods where we lived. He taught me how to ponder the Mystery of all that is, to wonder at the vastness of the cosmos, to search for and gasp in delight at a falling star.

Today’s readings are filled with many of these same sentiments. We read of splendor, shining radiance, and a “heart that throbs and overflows” in Isaiah. We hear of “the mystery” that was made known to Paul in Ephesians 3:3. And, of course, in today’s Gospel there is the star that guided the magi to gaze upon Mary and her child with such awe and reverence that they “prostrated themselves and did him homage.” Wow. Such delight! Such wonder. Such awe.

Such Mystery.

It makes me wonder: of all the stars in the sky, how did the magi know which star they were meant to follow? As scholars and seekers of truth, it is likely they had spent many hours pondering the vast mysteries of the night sky. Undoubtedly, they had asked probing questions about creation and life beyond their understanding. Clearly, they were willing to expend great amounts of time and treasure to follow their curiosity. So, why did they choose to follow this particular star?

Similarly, I get curious about Paul: how was it that “the mystery was made known to [him] by revelation.” Indeed, this mystery, “was not made known to people in other generations“ (Eph. 3:4-5). So, why Paul? Why then? Why that particular mystery?

As I wonder and pray, I come to realize that it was perhaps more about the engagement of the particular qualities of the people with the realities of each moment that enabled the magi and Paul to discover the Mystery of Christ in the world. As seekers, the magi did what they knew how to do: they observed the world around them, they wondered about it, and they followed their curiosity. And, by following their curiosity, they were led to a surprising place: the presence of God in the form of a child. Likewise, Paul was a Jew. We learn in Philippians 3:4-6 that he had the best Jewish credentials. So, he too, did what he knew how to do: he observed the world around him, he wondered about it, and he placed it within the context of his Jewish faith and identity. And it led him to a pretty surprising place: the presence of God in the community of Gentiles.

This is Epiphany: when the fullness of each person, engaging their curiosity, exactly as they are in each moment, furthers the consciousness of the Christ Mystery in the world. My question for you today, then, is not so much for you to consider “which star is yours to follow” but rather, what is true about who you are that needs to be enveloped into the Mystery of the Christ? Are you able to observe who you are as your most particular self? What is most true and confusing about who you are, in this particular moment in history? Are you willing to follow your curiosity, on the particular path of your life? Because, like the magi and like Paul, God needs your particularity to bring about the Mystery of Christ in the world. Now that is something to ponder under the night sky.


Laura knows that to experience the presence and wisdom of one’s soul will expand our ability to love, transform our own lives, and create a more whole society. Learn more at

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