“What happens in Bethlehem doesn’t stay in Bethlehem. It goes home with pilgrims. That was certainly true of the Holy Family. “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart”.” This was a quote from the book by Scott Hahn, “Joy to the World”, the gift given to us from the Parish.
What do we do when we leave this church every Sunday? What do we take with us? Do we have the Epiphany that this simple bread and wine has now become Jesus’ body and blood? Like the wise men who had the Epiphany that revealed to them who Jesus is do we take Jesus with us as we leave through those doors to share with others?
The Magi receive the revelation that Jesus is the King of the Jews. So they come to pay homage. They have an Epiphany-they know that Jesus is now manifested, that Jesus is now revealed and is the son of God who has come to save the world.
Epiphany means a showing, a manifestation. In our case today, through the visit of the wise men, the manifestation of Jesus as the savior of the world was made known to all. The wise men know this. They had their Epiphany. And what was shown to us is that Jesus, the one who came to save us, was revealed to all, Jew and Gentile alike. After all, the wise men were Gentile scholars in astrology and seeing this star, they knew someone had come into world who was very special indeed and after finding Jesus had an Epiphany that this child was sent by God to save the world.
There are many epiphanies we experience every day. But do we have the Epiphany that shows us Jesus in our daily lives, Jesus who is present in our lives, this Jesus who loves us so much to give his life for us? Or are we so caught up in this world’s stuff that we are clouded by it, keeping us from seeing him, seeing his relevance in our lives and that of the whole world?
I know that this happens to me from time to time especially in those times that I get impatient waiting for some sign that he is there when all I have to do is clear my mind, heart and soul from all the stuff around me. Then I realize, I have an Epiphany that He is right next to me guiding me and walking with me through my life’s journey. Has that happened to you? I bet it has.
Keeping my mind, heart and soul clear allows me to realize the epiphanies that happen on a daily basis. It is not just once. Through these daily Epiphanies, Jesus shows me who he wants me to be and I can realize who He really is, my God and my King, my Savior, my merciful and loving friend!
In our gospel today, God chose an insignificant people, the Jews and Jerusalem and from among them God chose an insignificant Jewish virgin, Mary. Through them, God chose to reveal the mystery of his plan beyond the Jews to the world. We hear in the psalm: “The king of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts. The king of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute, all kings shall pay homage, all nations shall serve him.”
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul exalts that the mystery of salvation, treasured by the Jewish people as their exclusive possession, is also intended by God for the salvation of the Gentiles, the world beyond the Jews. This in itself is an Epiphany. Jesus is revealed to be the savior of all people on earth.
Epiphanies are mental moments spurred by visible or verbal moments in our lives where we gain instant clarity, where we gain truth, where we gain wisdom by the power of the Spirit. These times can turn into motivation to change and charge forward. But not all epiphanies are created equally.
Some demand a deep inward search and you’ll be stuck asking the tough questions to see what you are made of! Other times they fly in and out of your life swiftly, silently, almost unseen but they do reach deep within us. It is great to have epiphanies in our lives but what we do with them, this new revelation, this new truth, this new clarity, is what really matters.
Most of our habits are so ingrained in our lives that changing behavior causes recourse in life. Most epiphanies force us to see situations and to see ourselves in a new light. But what do we do with this new light, this new revelation this change in our behavior?
As Catholic Christians we are charged to be evangelizers of our faith. The Epiphany does not stop at the crib. It continues throughout time and space to share this light, this revelation of who Jesus is. This faith of ours should be very important in our lives. This love shared by God through his Son Jesus, should be the most important in our lives. There is this game I play only once in a while. It goes like this; I tell some people that I love someone more than my own family, more than my own wife. Then I hesitate and remain silent for 10-15 seconds. I get the strangest looks and some tha could even kill.
I can only imagine what is going through their minds. Then I let them off the hook and say; “I love God more than anyone or anything.” It is like I lifted a great weight off their shoulders. The Epiphany of Jesus as savior of the world is hard to comprehend for some but it does not diminish that Jesus, in fact, came to save us all.
Jesus came to take on our burdens, to lighten our load, to take the weight of our sins off our shoulders. That in itself, is an Epiphany of who Jesus is, this Jesus lying in a manger in a stall, who became one of us taking humanity upon himself, putting himself in our shoes, revealing to us that he is here with us, and to be with us as we journey to holiness, as we journey in his truth.
Holiness is at the core of our faith and the Christian life. Jesus didn’t come into the world just to forgive sins. He came through this Epiphany, to make us into a new creation. He came so that He could give us the power to live in the holiness, peace and purity that he demonstrated. He brought us a way of life that would insure our entrance into the heavenly kingdom forever! What an Epiphany!
You know, having worshiped Christ, the Magi returned to their own country by a different route. This suggests not just a new geographical route, but a new mentality, a new truth. Having met Christ and hearing his gospel, we too will travel through life by a different route. We will have different attitudes, different values, different goals. It is impossible to encounter Christ without it affecting the way we live our lives.
Our coming here to mass is a journey to see Jesus, to get the fullest truth of who he is in our lives. We come here to give Him , in the presence of his body and blood, a place in our minds, hearts, and souls, to journey with us to the Father. This is the Epiphany.
This is the meaning and the joy of the Epiphany. May all of us experience the joy of showing Jesus to others. May we ask God to guide us with the light of Jesus Christ and to fully recognize the Epiphany of Jesus in the Eucharist and to welcome him with love!