Dear Friends in Christ:
With today’s feast of Epiphany, we conclude the Twelve Days of Christmas. Epiphany is one for the theologically richest days in the Church. The celebration of Epiphany in many Catholic cultures overshadows Christmas as the Feast of the Three Kings. The importance of this feast is that it recalls and celebrates the manifestation (in Greek: epiphania) of the divinity of Jesus and the recognition of his divinity by the whole world in the persons of the Magi of the East (Mt 2). Today as in the days of Jesus, we can see evidence of how threatening the mere presence of Jesus is to the powers of this world. While it has been so in every era, we are entering a new era where the truth of God and the message of his will produces hostility, ridicule and even fear among many people. From the very beginning, we see in the gospel how Jesus’ mere presence was perceived as troubling and dangerous to King Herod who in turn threatened the Magi for their search of the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. As the Magi – being wise men, sough truth, Herod responds with the indiscriminate efficiency of mass infanticide (Mt 2:16) We are still left today to ponder why so many through the course of human history, even to our own day, still see death and killing as an acceptable response to life’s challenges. How utterly horrible that any person can think that abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, murder and war are choices that should be celebrated and embraced. In a real sense the manifestation of Jesus’ divinity is shown in his very life. By means of his earthly life and in his human nature, Jesus shows the divine spark that is present in each of us. God’s glory and divine power is reflected in the very the gift of life. As Catholics, we see the gift of life and the incarnation of Jesus as proof that every human life is sacred.
During Advent, I used the phrase “It is not about us, it is about Jesus!” Epiphany reminds us as well that we are not the center of the universe. When we think the world revolves around us, we tend to become like King Herod. Epiphany reminds us that God is God and we are not. God’s glory and majesty are not threating to us unless we think that we are at the center of the universe and should be in control of everything. In a world where we think that human power is absolute, we can go mad when we discover that such a position is lie. When we discover that our human will is not perfect or omnipotent, we can fall into a pit of grave depression if we fail to accept who we really are. Faith in God, the recognition and acceptance of Jesus as the true and only son of God is the path to true peace. To accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, as true God and true man is simultaneously accepting that we are not God and that we are not the center of the universe and that our wills are neither perfect or omnipotent. As Polonius states in Act I of Hamlet “to thine own self be true.” Real human authenticity begins not with the assertion of the self, but in the recognition of God. For us to know who we truly are, we must accept the reality of God and the acceptance that we are not gods. It is in this that we launch ourselves on the true road to peace and happiness.
As we enter 2019, may we strive each day to be more like the wise men and seek Jesus to offer him our gifts and less like King Herod who was so fearful of Him.
In pace Christi,