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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Epiphany Sunday (January 4, 2009) Year B

Deacon Pat's Homily: - Epiphany Sunday
(We Are Catholics, The Original Christians – We are here to Transform the World)

The Glory of God is upon us.

Today we celebrate the Epiphany. The Epiphany literally means, “To Show Upon.”

Today we commemorate the manifestation of the glory of Christ that was shown upon the gentiles in the persons of the Magi. In today’s first reading from the book of Isaiah, was the beginning of three chapters of prophesies that provided a description of the New Jerusalem.

In the New Jerusalem, The Glory of God would be seen, not only upon the Jewish Nation, but also upon the Gentiles. The Magi were sincerely in search of truth; they wanted to find meaning and understanding.

People today have a desire to find meaning in their lives. There is a natural, God-given desire and quest to seek for something of substance outside of us. Rick Warren, a prominent Christian figure and author of
“The Purpose Driven Life,” a book that has sold millions of copies, has struck a nerve in the soul of people with his teaching and leading people to find purpose and meaning in their lives.

People are hungry for meaning and they are on a desperate search.

The Gospel speaks of Jesus’ birth in the “Days of King Herod.” And the reading from Isaiah describes how darkness covered the earth. What happened thousands of years ago seem in many ways so similar to what we are experiencing today. I speak of the darkness that covers our world, and the thick clouds that have enveloped the people.

The tragedy is that the majority of the people of our day have chosen the darkness. They like it because evil deeds are done in darkness, but those that are good are brought out into the light. So in our world filled with corruption, selfishness, and all kinds of unfortunate things, people, just like of old, have chosen the darkness over the light.

And guess what, it is getting darker. But, in a way, that might be OK. Because the darker something is, the brighter the light can shine in it. Now if people like the dark, they do not want the light to shine,
which is why they are going to give you trouble if you are doing what Christ told you to do, that is, to be the light of the world, to go out into the darkness and bring the light of Christ into the world.

Because unlike what happened 2000 years ago, where our Lord was born in human form and was revealed through a star to the nations, today he wants to be revealed through us. He wants us to be like that guiding star to bring people to him, to point the way beyond ourselves to Christ Himself. That is the task that is given to each and everyone of us.

How many of us have chosen to live like the pagans around us, just so that we can fit in? ……(Repeat)

With the birth of (Christ-the Epiphany), his Death and Resurrection, we now have the fullness of the Gospel: we have the fullness of the Truth given to us. The manifestation of Christ is truly present within the hearts and souls of every single one of us.

So, if this is the case, then we have to ask ourselves:

Is Christ revealed now through me? How brightly am I shining in faith to the world?

The times in which we are living should be certainly clear to anyone of faith. They are extraordinary times, certainly times of extraordinary evil. We need to make sure that we are not compromising our commitment to Jesus Christ. Because in the midst of such an evil time we know there are going to be extraordinary things happening, and each and every hour one needs to be prepared for that.

The Magi have taught us by example.

They watched in the darkness for a bright star. In the darkness of this world, we need to keep our eyes on “The One” who is the light of the world. There is a brilliant star that shines in the darkness. That star is Jesus Christ. He is shining and we are to follow him, to keep our eyes fixed on him, we are to unite ourselves with him, we are to bow down before him, worship him, and allow him to lead us to the promise land.

We are to become the light that leads us. Lets hear that again. We are to become the light that leads us.

As we enter the New Year, many of us have made resolutions. Many of us have probably said that I will eat less, exercise more, and maybe even to fight less with others. But more importantly, the New Year gives us opportunity to review our status before God.

Lets ask ourselves:

- Are we faithful to God, or do we have other Gods?

- Are we preoccupied with pride, having elevated ourselves above God?

- Is there an obsession with wealth and things, to the extent of having become uncharitable toward others?

- Are there bad habits that are detrimental to our spiritual growth, and alienating us from the True God, the True Lord Jesus?

Have we really been living a Christian life, not just on the surface, but a deep, holy, and committed Christian life? Do most people know us as a Christian first and foremost?

When your name comes up in a conversation, do people immediately think of you and associate you as a devout and holy person? ….A Catholic. If not……… why not?

What does that say about you? How can you be the light of the world, if you don’t look much different than the world that you live in? …….(Repeat)

* Men – You have been called to be the spiritual leaders of your families and of the world. You are to be the representation of Christ and The Father to others. Your life is to be the Essence of Character, Virtue, Strength and Justice. You are to teach your family and your children what Service and Commitment is, not in just words, but expressed in your day-to-day actions.

* Women – Modeled after Mary, you are Devout, Holy, and Compassionate. You have been called to be “The Life-giving Holiness” to the world. You are the humble strength that never ceases. You represent purity and beauty in life.

* Children and Young Adults – You are the church of today and tomorrow. You are the life of our world. You are the most vulnerable to the evil in the world, but you also have the greatest ability to make a change in the world. In how you choose to dress, to act, and to live, you are either taking the light of Jesus into places where adults cannot go, or you are ensuring that His light fades away. You are much more powerful than you imagine, and that is why you are being attacked so strongly.

So what does all this mean, especially to us here in Redding, and how does it relate to the Epiphany? I believe the message is very simple……..

We are Catholics, Like the Magi, we were the gentiles, and we are the Original Christians. We are not here to be transformed by the World, but rather, we are here to transform the World.

That is our purpose.

We are here for a New Jerusalem. We are to be the Epiphany; we are to “Show Upon,” we are to show Christ upon this world.

We are Catholics! We have….the fullness of the faith!

We are here ….to Transform the World!

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