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Can you write your story of faith? This was a question I recently asked a friend as we were discussing our journeys with the Lord. She pondered it, and then thought it would be hard mainly because she didn’t know exactly how she came to be a devout Catholic. She kind of laughed at herself while she was saying this, and it might seem humorous to us, too. But, some in our own congregation might have the same thought: how exactly did I come to really believe in and follow the Lord? Today’s feast of the Epiphany might help to pinpoint exactly the struggle for my friend or anyone else. What was our epiphany about the Lord and when did we have it?

When we talk about the Epiphany, we are referring to the outward manifestation of the Lord to the Magi and to the world. He is revealed to them as the Christ, and they “come to do him homage”. Their epiphany occurred through a star which led them to the baby Jesus. They were “overjoyed” during this experience, and gave treasures to the Lord of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When we hear that they “departed for their country by another way” , we can interpret it as this event changed their lives. This would be the starting point in their stories of faith.

I have described to you my journey of faith in homilies, but I don’t think I’ve written it here in any great detail. Please forgive me if I have! My epiphany happened with the Eucharist. My “star” was Msgr. Thomas Wells. And, it happened when I was 21 years old. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools through the first half of college. Even though I was taught Catholic doctrine at home and in school, not much sunk in the first 21 years of life. I was a clueless Catholic.

But, then, one day, Msgr. Wells and I were talking about the Eucharist. He said, “Greg, ‘this is my body’ means this is my body”. Epiphany! That was the first time I had really heard the teaching on the Real Presence. And, it blew me away. I had heard those words (“this is my body”) hundreds of times before at Sunday Mass, but they never really registered in my mind or heart. And then, after the one-sentence epiphany (or revelation), I saw everything differently: God, Mass, the Cross, the Church, Confession, and life. I began to “do him homage” at daily Mass and Adoration, and was having the same experience of being “overjoyed” as the Magi. Of course, this all changed my life as it did theirs.

In talking to many people for the past 25 years, I realize that not many can point to one moment – and certainly not one sentence – as their epiphany of who Jesus really is. For many, it has been engrained in them since childhood. They have always just believed. But, they have had a multitude of personal epiphanies about the Lord as Savior, Master, brother, friend, Good Shepherd, Prince of Peace, Healer, Divine Physician, etc. For others, the epiphany came as adults, and often in a way that Christ appeared to them in a personal way. That is really the underlying point to our epiphanies: an encounter with the living God in a person, Jesus Christ. Yes, the Magi were overjoyed at “seeing the star”, but only because it “stopped over the place where the child was”. They were so happy because they were encountering the Son of God. As much as I liked Msgr. Wells for 5 years before my epiphany, I didn’t find true joy until he led me to encounter the Son of God in the Eucharist. That’s when the Lord and faith became personal. That’s when an epiphany had taken place, thanks be to God.

So, here is the epiphany formula for the Magi and hopefully all of us:

  • God will show you a star – something or someone that will lead you to where He is.
  • God will reveal Himself to you in a personal and profound way.
  • Do Him homage.
  • You will be overjoyed in your encounter with Him.
  • Offer Him gifts (e.g., your life as gold)
  • Go home a different way (i.e., change your life)

Christ is born!

Fr Greg

Overjoyed by the Light of Christ

Feast of the Epiphany

New Year’s Eve party

Riches emptied out
Parish / PFOC / Those in need / Children
People’s praise of God + His Presence here
Christmas letter 

Assumption is star to many
Assumption = Bethlehem
1st reading (line by line almost)
History of Bethlehem + Assumption
“Overjoyed”

Star stops over place where baby was
Parish is light to others —-> Christ
Are you? Others have epiphany thru u?
Like St Paul
From God’s revelation to him

        From him to others
        True about each of us?

Overjoyed at Seeing the Light

Feast of the Epiphany – “Overjoyed at seeing the light”

College student
Like Magi, saw the light

Magi / VIPs
Gave homage to King

    Overjoyed!
Gifts
Gold – for King
Frankincense – offering
Myrrh – burial
Went home “by another way”
Once we see the light, we are changed and go a different way (Christ)

Epiphany of Eucharist

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