Sunday, January 5, 2014

Epiphany: Jesus Christ fully reveals us to ourselves

"Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear" (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, par. 22).

One can use the alternative prayer, or collect, set forth in the Liturgy of the Hours for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, which we observe today here in the United States. This collect sets forth and, I dare say, pushes forward, as it were, the statement above, so loved by Bl. Pope John Paul II (who was likely its author, engaged as he was in the composition of Gaudium et spes):
Father of light, unchanging God
today you reveal to men of faith
the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh.
Your light is strong,
your love is near;
draw us beyond the limits which this world imposes,
to the life where your Spirit makes all life complete.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Mindful of the words spoken by His Eminence, Achille Cardinal Silvestrini at Federico Fellini's funeral,"We should put our questions to the poets, listen to them for the knowledge they have of the suffering world," and to really "flesh" out this Epiphany of God made man for us, let's turn to the priest-poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, specifically to his poem about our longing for what Epiphany so strikingly shows us: "The Caged Skylark":
As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage,
    Man's mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells —
   That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life's age.
Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage
   Both sing sometímes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
   Yet both droop deadly sómetimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest —
Why, hear him, hear him babble & drop down to his nest,
   But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Man's spirit will be flesh-bound, when found at best,
But uncumberèd: meadow-down is not distressed
   For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen.

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