Sunday, January 08, 2017

Sunday word, 08 Jan 17

Solemnity of the Epiphany (08 Jan 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Another Way”
Everything in scripture is for us: to help us live as friends and disciples of Jesus. The gospels do narrate Jesus’ life; they paint portraits of him with words. In addition to scenes of his life, people and especially their responses show us how to live and not live our Christian lives. The familiar account of the wise men from the east is for us. Their last response captured me: being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another way. First their dream, then their response.

Dreams were a favoured way God communicated. Before we met the wise men God had already communicated to Joseph in a dream: that he could take Mary to be his wife. After the visit of the wise men, in dreams God would com-municate to him where to take Mary and the child Jesus and flee to safety; when to return to their land; and where to live.1 The wise men searched for a true royal, one who would respond to their deepest needs: they had come to worship him. They recognized in the humble child one who surpassed in dignity every worldly monarch; and they responded with their worship and gifts.

We may say these three had had dealings with God. They were desire-dealings: their deep desires vibrated with God’s desire for them; more than focusing on a star, a star focused their individual desires and transformed them into a shared desire; this light of God caused their desires to continue to throb and overflow and emboldened them to journey far by its radiant light.

Their search was not private. At their audience with Herod they boldly asked him, Jerusalem’s scribes and priests, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him. Herod was a foreigner, a puppet-king Rome let rule Jerusalem. Everyone knew Herod was an illegiti-mate king.He feared the power that made him king, and he feared any who threatened his rule. Herod also knew that people he ruled longed for a Messiah; God had promised them one. The scribes and priests knew the scriptures, but they could not interpret their true king had arrived.2 As for Herod, he would not even let a royal title escape his lips: Go and search diligently for the child, he told the wise men. And they did.

After finding the child Jesus they were warned…not to return to Herod, [and] they left for their own country by another way. The word we translate as to warn also means to have dealings with. Our dealings with God call us to behave differently: for example, to be honest, when shading the truth may make us look better; to choose silence instead of joining in ridicule or gossip; to share our resources rather than hoarding them; to make time and space for God and others rather than just ourselves. To put into action God’s dealings with us and our dealings with God is how we are children of light. To refuse to put into action God’s dealings with us and our dealings with God is to return to darkness. St. Paul urges us, once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. To live that way is not out of reach, for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.3 

Goodness, righteousness and truth. Practicing them—that is, living another way, Jesus’ way—we reach our true homeland.4 Responding each day with that other way, Jesus’ way, also is how we shine as light of the world5 so others may see and know Jesus more clearly until his return.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the wise men to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise Jesus for being born human for you; thank him for sharing his spirit with us so we may shine brightly, pointing out Jesus by out choices and actions.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to shine as his disciples throughout this year.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is the gospel in its essence. Each time we say it we learn better Jesus and his way, and we grow more courageous to live it.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Matthew 1.20; 2.13; 2.19, 22.
  2. Jesus would say so later in his ministry: Matthew 16.3.
  3. Ephesians 5.8-9.
  4. Philippians 3.20.
  5. Matthew 5.14-16

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