Sunday, January 06, 2013

Sunday word, 06 Jan 2013

Epiphany C (06 Jan 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Epiphany is a Greek word. It means striking appearance.1 Christians first focused on the appearance of risen Jesus, his epiphany in which he conquered death so it would not have the final word about humans. Baptism was how they united others with his dying and rising. It made sense to baptize because early Christians recalled Jesus’ baptism as his first epiphany during his life. It also recalled his epiphany at Cana, when he turned water into wine for the sake of human delight. Today was celebrated by the early church east of Rome as a day of baptism.

By the time Epiphany had arrived in Rome other signs outshone water. The star is perhaps most famous. Ancient chronicles mentioned stars at the births of significant people.2 In the Bible stars are mentioned frequently in praise of God.3 Stars are part of the cast of light. In Genesis light was created first.4 Today Isaiah reminded us the divine light shines not so we may see but so we may live our days in harmony with God’s justice and proclaiming the praises of the Lord. Because of Jesus’ Incarnation and his life with us by his Spirit, the shining radiance of divine light is not limited to leaders—kings [shall walk] by your shining radiance; it brightens each of us.

The shining radiance imparts to us the desires of our triune God. When our deep desires mesh with our God’s desires for us, our ways of living clearly express love for God and for others. A second Epiphany sign is the magi. They desired to find and to adore the newborn king of the Jews. Their journey of discovery is one more Epiphany sign. It was not all light. Fear, also, played its part. Herod feared to lose power so he resorted to secrecy and conniving. The magi felt something amiss, though they knew not what. In their deepest selves—dreams speak to our deepest selves—their fear of Herod they realized was not unfounded. So they did not return to him to be part of his schemes.

Those signs converge in Jesus, the light to the nations.5 His light was divine radiance, and the wise men of non-Jewish races remind us Jesus was incarnated for all. The church, the body of Christ and sacrament of God’s communion with all people, unites itself closely with migrating peoples6 in every land where the church lives. Too many people journey to survive another day, as in Syria. Too many people journey to live free of corruption and the violence of today’s Herods and puppets of drug lords, as in Mexico. Each of us can add other groups elsewhere in the world. We celebrate Jesus as our Messiah, and he is. Jesus is not our exclusive property. Epiphany allows us to celebrate with Christmas joy that Jesus is Messiah for all.

All of us gathered here are migrants, too. As Catholics ours is a journey of faith. We seek in our lives God’s shining radiance. We desire to live by it as companions of Jesus. We desire our lives to be in harmony with God’s justice, proclaiming the praises of the Lord in deed and word. We have our fears, as well. Talking with Jesus about them as well as entrusting our fears to him helps us notice which of our fears are unfounded and which are not. When I recall people journeying to live another day or even another hour, I realize my distress pales by comparison.

The Year of Faith suggests that we resolve in 2013 to deepen our conviction of Jesus present to us and to all people as Messiah. It also suggests we resolve to be more alert to our Messiah’s shining radiance alive in us to make us his more courageous and inviting disciples.

To feel being enlightened by Jesus to reflect his light by your lives: give Jesus 15 minutes each day this week:
  • Pause and bask in the love with which the Trinity creates you
  • Ask the magi to present you to Jesus
  • Chat with Jesus: 
thank Jesus for the ways Jesus chooses you to embody him in the world and for the countless ways Jesus protected you last year;
ask Jesus to free you from what holds you back from journeying closer to him in word and deed.
  • Resolve to grow more alert in faith. Look forward to your relationship with Jesus to grow in 2013 then
  • Slowly say the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer as our compass to find him in and with others.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. The entry in Thayer’s Lexicon and in LSJ.
  2. Julius Caesar is one example, and a star was the herald of his death and moved his contemporaries to consider him a god.
  3. Some by name as in Amos 5.8 and Job 9.9. A page at OpenBible lists over three dozen citations for stars.
  4. Genesis 1.3.
  5. The collect of the Roman Missal echoes that conviction. “Light of the nations” began the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.
  6. Today begins National Migration Week.
Wiki-image by Henryk Kowalewski of Star Merope used by CC BY-SA 2.5. Wiki-image by 3268zauber of Three Kings used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

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