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A New Year’s Epiphany

Here are excerpts from an excellent, Biblical reflection on the event of the Epiphany from catholicmom.com. Enjoy!

Up until now, all has been quite humble.  A donkey-ride to a dusty town south of Jerusalem.  Hotel rooms all booked up.  Giving birth in a stable and laying the baby in an animal’s feed trough instead of a cozy cradle.

Into this scene of obscure poverty suddenly bursts an exotic entourage from a far-off land.  Dignitaries in dress uniform lavish the newborn with expensive gifts that seem out of place in the humble surroundings.

This event is so significant that it is accorded its own feast in the Roman liturgy, celebrated traditionally on Jan 6, immediately after the twelve days of Christmas.  This solemn feast is called Epiphany, a word that means “manifestation” or “appearance.”

For a fleeting moment, what seems to be no more than another crying baby of an indigent family “appears” for who He really is–the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The gifts he is given, prophesied in Isaiah 60:6, tell the story: gold fit for a king, incense for the worship of God, and myrrh, bitter yet precious, for the hero who will lay down his life for his people.

There are several important things to note about these prestigious visitors.  They are Gentiles, not Jews.  From the very beginning of his human existence, then, Jesus is clearly not just the Jewish messiah who has come to deliver the people of Israel from foreign oppression.  No, he is the universal king, the ruler of all, who has come to tear down the hostile wall dividing Jew from Gentile, nation from nation.

If you’ve ever wondered what the word “Catholic” means, here we have it.  Derived from Greek words meaning “according to the whole,” it means that Christ did not come to establish some local religious sect for a select few, one “cult” among many.  No, the Church he founded is “catholic” or universal, spread over the whole world, welcoming the whole human race into one nation, one family, under one King.

Something else is to be noted about these illustrious visitors.  As Gentiles, they are pagans.  In fact the term “Magi” is clearly linked to the word “magic.”  It was not in the Bible that they normally looked for wisdom (otherwise they would have known to go straight to Bethlehem).  But in reward for their ardent though perhaps misguided search for truth, God led them to Christ anyhow, in His great mercy…

St. Justin said that there are “seeds of the Word” scattered throughout the world.  But seeds are meant to sprout, grow, and bear fruit.  Hearing the full gospel and partaking in all the means of grace are ordinarily needed to make that happen.  All peoples of the world have a right to this “Catholic” fullness.  And it is our obligation to share it.  Paul VI said it well: “others may be able to be saved without hearing the gospel, but can we be saved if we neglect to preach it?”

This column is offered as a reflection on the scripture readings for the Feast of the Epiphany, cycles ABC (Is 60:1-6; Ps 72; Eph 3:2-3; 5-6; Mt 2:1-12), and appears here by permission of the author.

Copyright 2015 Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.

 

Christ is born!

Fr Greg

Christ is Born!

The following is taken from the Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours) for the Feast of the Holy Family:

From an address by Blessed Paul VI, pope
(Nazareth, January 5, 1964)

Nazareth, a model

“Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.

Here we can learn to realize who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief, everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.

How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage.

Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing; some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children—and for this there is no substitute.

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognize its value—demanding yet redeeming—and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves.

In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well-being.”

Christ is born!

Fr Greg

Feast of the Holy Family

Feast of the Holy family – “The love of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph”

Former life

Love of holy family
God
Each other
Righteousness

Love in our families
God
Each other
Righteousness

Christ – center of family life / love