Sunday, January 6, 2019

Jan. 6, 2019: Epiphany

Jan. 6, 2019: Epiphany

Have you looked up at the night sky lately to gaze at stars? Now days, It is difficult to catch a glimpse of the stars in the night sky because of all the lights left on at our homes and businesses. The other day, I was driving through a subdivision, and the bright light shining from each home seemed to be the large screen TV’s. That’s the kind of light that captivates us these days--light from the TV’s, our phones, and tablets. During his Epiphany homily last year, Pope Francis reflected on why the Magi alone saw the star. He said, “Perhaps because few people raise their eyes to see heaven. We often make do looking at the ground: it’s enough to have our health, a little money, and a bit of entertainment. I wonder if we still know how to look up at the sky. Do we know how to dream, to long for God, to expect the newness he brings, or do we let ourselves be swept along by life, like dry leaves before the wind? The Magi were not content with just getting by, with keeping afloat. They understood that to truly live, we need a lofty goal and we need to keep looking up.”

It was by looking above their heads toward the light of the Star of Bethlehem that the Magi came to Jerusalem seeking the Messiah. Herod, a Jewish king,  and his allies never saw this star because they were preoccupied with holding on to earthly power and fearful of losing the grip. The epiphany story is a foreshadowing of the rejection of Jesus by the powerful political and religious leaders, and the acceptance of Jesus by the poor, the lowly, and the Gentiles. The Magi who represent the pagan Gentiles allowed the light of the Bethlehem Star to guide them, and once they saw the Christ Child, they joyfully adored and surrendered their lives.

The Star of Bethlehem was then as is now visible through faith; instead of dazzling our eyes like a meteorite which brightly burns up quickly, Jesus’ star invites us gently. While success, money, career, honors, and pleasures entice us then lead us quickly to darkness, the call from Jesus to humility, prayer, sacrifice, and love fill us with gentle joy and peace. Those who turn their lives around and decide to be guided by the light of Christ may not make a name for themselves, but they are truly blessed because they serve as another star of Bethlehem for others. Our Lord came to us to give his very own life; the Magi journeyed a long distance to bring the Christ Child costly gifts.  We are called to make our lives a gift for Christ, to give freely, for the Lord’s sake, without expecting anything in return. What a bright sign we become for Christ when we build our family upon Christian values, give to the needy, the hungry, the stranger, or spend time with a difficult person. Let us ponder this week: Is my life like a ‘star’ which guides others to Jesus?