Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jan. 8, 2017: Epiphany

Jan. 8, 2017: Epiphany
Click to hear Audio Homily

It was the day after Christmas, and the local news anchor announced that the Christmas tree collection was going to begin promptly. My heart sank because Christmas was not over, in fact, it had just begun. Whereas many of our local stores have switched out Christmas goods with Mardi Gras decoration and sweets, many countries around the world are celebrating the gift giving on this feast of Epiphany. To us in the States, gift buying and giving and all the holiday parties are over. We’re so ready to be back to slower and peaceful pace of life again. But when you ponder about the feast of Epiphany, that’s exactly what we’re celebrating.

Imagine on the stillness of the night, three men following a star. They represent all of us and the rest of humanity, in search of the True Light, True Peace, and True Happiness. We can identify with these men, for we are in constant search for that which will ultimately fulfill us. We don’t sit still. Sometimes we feel that working harder, accomplishing more, knowing more people, or having more would make us happy. We keep busy hoping that would help us get us to our goal of being happy.

Yet these men did something opposite of what we would normally do. They sacrificed their time by putting their careers and their lives on hold, so that they could journey to Bethlehem in search of Jesus. They dedicated their talent and time to pay homage and to worship the True King. When the Magi arrived at the place where the child was with Mary his mother, they fell on their knees in adoration. They opened their treasures – their hearts – and presented Jesus with gold, incense and myrrh, highly valuable commodities, a currency, and of great value in those times. Having accepted their gifts on behalf of her Son--as she does with all our prayers--Mary, in turn, presented Jesus to the Magi. This was her gift to them, and one of immeasurably more value than gold, incense and myrrh. 

As we know, after finding Jesus, the Magi did not go back to King Herod, but returned to their own country a different way. This is conversion. This is the heart, changing. Having replaced in their hearts the riches of gold, incense and myrrh with the treasure of Jesus, the three kings now became ‘wise men’ and avoided returning to their old ways. Like the Magi, will we also long to search for Him and to behold Him? In the busyness of life and distractions of the world, will we make a new resolve to disconnect from things of the world that keep us from seeing Our Lord? Can we develop one habit this new year that would help us grow closer to Jesus? Ponder what God is asking of you so that you may grow closer to His Son. If you’re not praying every day, consider adding prayer in your daily routine. If you have a regular prayer routine, consider adding a little time. The way we get to know Jesus and our mission, is to read the scriptures. Start by reading the Gospel of Mark, which is the shortest of the Gospel--perhaps you could read 10 minutes a day.

Do we want to see our lives transformed by the love and power of Jesus Christ? Each of us must take time to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel of peace, mercy, and righteousness. Let us examine Jesus' humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in our hearts.
I leave you with a hymn which tells of the mystery of what the Magi discovered in Bethlehem. 

Helpless and hungry, lowly, afraid
Wrapped in the chill of midwinter;
Comes now among us, born into poverty’s embrace,
new life for the world
Who is this who lives with the lowly,
 Sharing their sorrows, knowing their hunger?
This is Christ, revealed to the world
 In the eyes of a child, a child of the poor

Bring all the thirst, all who seek peace;
Bring those with nothing to offer.
Strengthen the feeble,
Say to the frightened heart: “Fear not: here is your God!” 
Who is this who lives with the lowly,
 Sharing their sorrows, knowing their hunger?
This is Christ, revealed to the world
 In the eyes of a child, a child of the poor

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.