Monday, January 7, 2008

Year A, Feast of Epiphany Vespers homilette

Reading: Eph 3,2-3a.5-6

The mystery of God’s grace, we read from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, was made known to him "by revelation" What was made known to the author of this letter is the same mystery of grace made known to the Magi, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. The word epiphany is one that we use in everyday language. An epiphany is a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something that allows us to immediately grasp reality through an event.

The event through which the Magi came to grasp the reality was their encounter with the Christ child. The event through which St. Paul suddenly perceived this same mystery of grace was his encounter with the resurrected and risen Lord as he made his way to Damascus from Jerusalem to continue his persecution of Christians. What is important about this is our encounter, the event that brings us to faith in Christ Jesus, our share in this mystery of grace that begins with baptism. Christ manifests himself in so many ways. Therefore, it is not a question of if we will have an epiphany, but how and whether or not we recognize these manifestations as such.

While Paul’s experience was explosive, the experience of the Magi was not. After all, the culmination of their journey following the star led them to the crib of an infant. What is so extraordinary or revelatory about that? Well, they perceived the relevance and it was for them an epiphany, a revelation, a manifestation of the Son of God. We encounter Christ each Sunday in the Eucharist, when he comes to us under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine. We also encounter Christ in our fellow human beings, who we see as children of God and, hence, as our sisters and brothers. Christ is present in what Blessed Teresa Calcutta termed his “distressing disguise”: those in need, in the sick, in the prisoner, in the widow and the orphan, in the hurting and discouraged. This great feast calls us to be wise, like the Magi, by seeking Wisdom himself, Jesus Christ. We seek him trusting in his promise that we will find him and that in finding him we receive the greatest gift of all, for he is the pearl of great price.

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