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Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Epiphany

Is 60:1-6, Mt 2:1-12

The Gospel today is rich with symbols:

• The Journey,
• the Personalities from distant lands,
• the star, its disappearance and reappearance,
• the gifts,
• the difficulties,
• the dream….

All have a unique meaning, especially for Christians, and if contemplated can lead us to where it led the Magi:

To Faith in Christ.

Faith is indeed a long journey, a life-long one. This Faith journey leads us from the security of the “Lands” we are familiar with, to a far-off place where the rules of the game are very different. It requires courage to set out on such a journey when we could stick to the comfort and security of home and “do just what everyone else does.” It requires us to persevere and continue the journey, especially when it is not clear where we are going…. because with all real journeys of faith, more often than not, the specific route and destination is unclear.

But where does such faith come from? I think we all understand that it can’t be purchased, or even earned. Faith in Christ is a grace; or rather it is the grace of all graces.

A gift given to us. But this gift is not to be kept for ourselves, it comes with responsibility. I was once told that to whom much had been given, must is expected. We are all called to share this gift. And in sharing this gift, this gift of faith, our primary responsibility is to be a personal witness of what it contains. We are responsible for doing what we can in the sphere of our own lives so that the light of Christ shines through us to others.

• However, someone who is constantly bad-humored, or self-centered, or continually sad, is not a sign that God lives within them.

• Nor someone whose behavior and conversation is coarse and lewd and who profanes everything he sets his eyes upon or turns his tongue toward, he is not a sign that the sacredness and the beauty of God is within him.

• Nor someone who destroys her neighbor’s reputation on a daily basis; She will not inspire others to say, “Look how they love one another.”

• Nor will someone who lives only to have more of the “stuff” of this world, be likely to make people catch a glimpse of the world to come.

We must honestly ask ourselves:  “What or who do I represent to those around me?  And am I, a transparent window into what can be seen as the City of God?”

Today’s readings also show us that Christ is for all, for everyone. And that the church must be a city placed on a mountain top so all can see and all can come. This church involves each of us. Every Christian, and more so, every Catholic, Is this church. Each one of us is the church in the sense of being the place where Christ dwells and is to be revealed to those who do not know him.

So let us ask ourselves,

“Do I really believe that I am the dwelling place of God?”

“Do I have such faith?”

Many of us were born into a Christian family and it is difficult to appreciate how great the gift of “Faith” actually is. It is easy to take for granted, and we often fail to exercise it. And as we fail to recognize and utilize this gift, it can grow weak, and then we are only capable of short journeys with few or no difficulties.

Perhaps we can’t even travel past the everyday obstacles to find Christ our Lord.

Whether it is due:

• to a health problem,
• or that difficult sister-in-law,
• or the way that particular priest celebrates mass,
• or that particular habit my wife or husband has,

we have such little “strength of faith” that we lose our way. Many people think of the New Year as a time for a new start, and for some it is, but in reality, we have all been on a journey for years,

• and we choose who or what we are searching for,
• who or what we follow,
• and who or what we desire.

The Magi have shown us through example, that when Christ calls, and we focus on him rather than on ourselves, we can persevere. Even at times when the star seems hidden, with faith, it will reappear, and as we journey in faith, we will, come upon –

“The Savior of the World.”

So in conclusion……this gift of faith that has been given to each one of us awaits a response. And like the Magi, God speaks personally to us as well, if only we will listen and believe!

Rise up in splendor, Jerusaelm! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.

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