Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Epiphany of the Lord

Some thoughts on the Epiphany
(As there are no students here I guess only the poor blog readers will get my homily today)

We all know the story of the Epiphany of our Lord..
At some point in time three, wise men from somewhere in the east see a star. tradition says there were three because there are three gifts. The star they see is a new star they have never seen before.

They come from different places and some how meet up in their desire to understand the star and it meaning.

As they follow the star their journey cannot be easy. They leave everything that is familiar, comfortable and safe and press on to see a king foretold in ancient prophesies. They want pay him homage.

On their journey they stop in Jerusalem and are greeted by King Herod. He is very interested in the king they seek not because he longs to pay him homage but rather because he see competition and longs to kill him. His evil designs are transparent even to the strangers because they do not return to Herod with the location of the new King.

When they finally find him they are probably amazed to discover that he is not in a fine palace surrounded by a strong army but r instead he is wrapped in a blanket and laying in a manger.

As they pay him homage they bring him gold franeknsense and myrh. There are lots of theories about the meaning of these gifts. Gold was symbolized his kingship, Franeknsense could symbolize his priesthood, and myrh foretells his suffering and death on a cross. They are little epiphanies in themselves.

What does all this mean for us ?
How should we understand this first Epiphany of our Lord.
Here are some random thoughts.

First of all it is important to note that the star, the sign, the announcement, was in the sky where all who looked can see it. This epiphany is not meant to be a secret or the privileged possession of a privileged nation or people. God begins the Gospels by clearly stating that Jesus,the king found in the manger, is for everyone. Anyone could have noticed the star and followed it, anyone could have sought out its meaning. In other words God loves all of us and the good news of the Gospel is meant for eveyone.

The wise men were indeed wise because they noticed something different. There was a new star in the sky. Have you ever seen the sky on a clear night away from city lights? There are millions of stars. It takes an attentive person to even notice a new star and a very brave person to follow it. The wise men were willing to change they were willing to take a risk. They showed their commitment with their feet and the sacrifices of the journey.

Are we willing to or thoughtful enough to notice the many stars in our lives. Because God loves us and longs to be a part of our lives he sends us many stars, and many signs everyday to help find him. Do we have the courage to follow these signs or are we just too comfortable where we are to even look up or to look around to see the many signs of God's love around us.

Herod wanted nothing to do with the new king. He was not open to any changes. He wanted his will and his power and cared not if God had other plans. If you follow the gospel on after the story of the Epiphany it becomes sadly clear to what lenghts Herod was willing to go were terrible. "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more."

With how much tenacity do we hold onto our will and our desires. How far will we go to have life our way on our terms regardless of God's will?

Finally if we think about it the star was the sign which brought people to Bethlehem but so were the lives of the wise men. They were also living Epiphanies of God love.

Are we willing to be signs of God's love to those around. Does the witness of our lives cause people to stop and think? By our example do we guide them closer to Bethlehem the home of our king or do we take them farther away.

Lots to think about and ponder.
Let's pray for each other.


PS I went to the Tridentine Mass today at St. Mary's in Washington. It was a very interesting experience. I vaguely remember it as a child. It is such a different experience certainly devotional in a more private way. The priest gave a good homily and the people around me seemed to be following along in their missals. It's a big Church

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