FROM THE PULPIT
A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church "Put whichever one you want in the collection basket and keep the other for yourself," she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. "Well," said the little girl, "I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the priest said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I'd be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did."
Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord and also this weekend ends our Christmas Season. It’s so hard to believe that Advent has gone and now we conclude Christmas and begin the season of Ordinary Time. What have we learned during these past days? Have we become closer to the Lord, have we become generous givers as we saw with the Magi in the Gospel? Have we followed the light of the guiding star and properly adored the Lord as we should not just by our prayers and attendance at Mass but with our actions and bringing that peace and joy that we find in Jesus to others?
The light of the guiding star is not simply light. For Isaiah, “the light (which) has come” to Jerusalem is God’s glory. For us the light is Christ himself. In Christ God’s light and glory have taken flesh. Moreover, this light is not something possessed by a single people or nation, but it shines so that “all might gather and come to” Christ. The Light of Christ shines beyond the boundaries of Israel, extending the gift of salvation to Gentiles. Ironically, it is not the king no the chief priests and scribes, but Magi-foreigners who model both a driving desire to find Christ and, when they find him, to offer homage. What leads us and prompts us to seek the divine is more than simple light; it always God’s power acting in Christ to lead us to encounter the divine. The Light brings us to God and elicits from us the homage that we know we must render God.
The Magi’s epiphany journey is the pattern of our Christian living: we follow God’s promptings, seek God diligently, overcome many obstacles, and finally, finding God, we offer homage. Rather than gifts of things, we offer God the greatest gift we can—our very selves.[i]
Pope Paul VI made a voyage to the Holy Land in 1964 and was in Bethlehem on the Feast of the Ephiany and he said, “Let us look at the world with immense sympathy. If the world feels foreign to Christianity, Christianity does not feel foreign to the world" (Insegnamenti, Vol. II, 1964, p. 32). Pope Paul VI added that Christianity's mission in humanity's midst is a mission of friendship, understanding, encouragement, promotion, exaltation: in other words, a mission of salvation. Our Holy Father was letting us know that this light of Christ that the Magi were following brought them that light that is the Prince of Peace. That as Christians who profess this Jesus as “Lord of Lords” and “King of Kings.” That we bring our mission of friendship, understanding, encouragement, promotion and exaltation to the world.
My brothers and sisters, as I brought up several questions earlier about faithfully following our Lord, we should consider these questions and to be completely honest in answering them. We just cannot be people that come to Mass each Sunday and not work on our spiritual lives and especially not share what we have gained here to others. My dear brothers and sisters we need to be the “salt of the earth and the light of the world.” We live in a world that tries to shun out God; world that it’s not politically correct to do this and to do that. My brothers and sisters some of our beliefs society has labeled as “not being politically correct” but we are not to be quite about the matters we believe. If we see something that needs to be attended to, we are not to ignore it but to take action. How many times in our society are evil things done and we just stand back because we don’t want to get involved, we don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, we don’t want to impose our beliefs on others.
My brothers and sisters we have the right and duty to spread that light onto the nations. Just think of those men and women throughout our Church history up to the present times who have gone to foreign lands making huge sacrifices to bring that light to the nations and at times these men and women have shed their blood to bring the light to the nations. My brothers and sisters, no one has ever said that our task would be easy but we must be faithful and do what we know is right.
My dear brothers and sisters as we end this Christmas season let us not leave here empty but let us be full of gifts not like the little girl who in the earlier just gave us little as she could but instead like the Magi who gave of themselves and as we celebrate that light that God who made himself visible to us to bring that peace and joy to the world even to a world that at times doesn’t welcome us but we come with a welcoming spirit.
[i] Living Liturgy: Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnties, p. 34