Monday after Epiphany

Today’s readings

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Perhaps our devotion for this Epiphany week should be to pray the Mysteries of Light of the Rosary.  Epiphany is a time of manifestation, of light coming into the dark place that our world can be at times.  We long to see, and more than that we long to see Christ, the one who comes with peace and justice to make all things right.

Today’s Mystery of Light, then would be “Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God with its call to repentance,” the third Mystery of Light.  Those, in fact, are his very words this morning.  This preaching is accompanied by the great and mighty acts of healing, which have the crowds flocking to him in droves.  They definitely see in Jesus a light that shines into the darkness of their lives, marked as they are by illness both physical and mental, but also perhaps overwhelmingly spiritual.

But there were all sorts of people who didn’t flock to Jesus.  Many saw him as a charlatan and thought his healings were smoke and mirrors.  They preferred the darkness.  The same is true today.  Many hear the word and turn away from it.  Many hear of the kingdom with its call to repentance and choose to reject it.  But we cannot be that way.  We have the Light, and we are called to live in the Light.  Living in that Light, as the Psalmist tells us, gives us the nations for our inheritance.

The Epiphany of the Lord: Journey and Vocation

Today’s readings

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?”  This was the question those magi asked after their long and harrowing journey.  They had observed the star at its rising and were proceeding to pay tribute to the newborn king.  They brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  We know the story well enough; we’ve heard it so many times.  But maybe this time, we can make a resolution not to lose sight of this wonderful event in the year to come.

We celebrate Epiphany today, and Epiphany is a revelation, a manifestation of God here among us earthly creatures.  Epiphany is God doing a God-thing so that we will sit up and take notice.  But it takes some awareness to perceive such an Epiphany, such a wonderful event.  We, like the magi, have to ask the question, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?”

To answer that question, we well might look toward our manger scenes, or assume we’ll only find him in church or in our prayer books, or in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  And, of course, we will find the Lord there – those are wonderful places to start.  But the event of the Epiphany of the Lord reminds us that God wants to do a God thing in us in all sorts of circumstances.  So now we have to find God at work, at school, in our homes, in our community.

Can we see the Lord in the demanding customer, the needy co-worker, the sulky teenager, the hovering parent, the snippy public servant?  We have to.  We dare not ever miss the opportunity to seek out the newborn King in every situation!  How could we ever turn up our nose at an opportunity for grace?  Why would we ever knowingly miss a situation that could help us grow in holiness?

Finding the Lord is a journey that we all must make, at every stage of our lives.  God wants to do God-things in us all the time, leading us this way and that, helping us to know him in more profound ways and more relevant ways at all the stops and starts of our life-long journey of faith.

For all of us, as we pursue the question of where is Christ in our lives, and as we make the journey with him, we are called also to discern our vocation.  Everyone has a vocation: some as parents, some as single people, some as ordained priests or consecrated religious.  God has a plan for all of our lives, and it is up to us on this Epiphany day, as well as every other day, to continue to seek clarity of that plan and to be certain we are following it as best we can.

Where is the newborn king for us?  Are we ready to make the journey?

Christmas Weekday: The Most Holy Name of Jesus

Today’s readings

Not everyone has St. John the Baptist around to point out the Messiah to them.  Lots of us, I think, at one point or another, would have loved to have been in the sandals of those apostles when Jesus was passing by.  As much as we believe that Christ is present in every person, place and time, I’m sure lots of us would love to have St. John the Baptist point out when we’re missing Christ’s presence in some person or situation.  It’s harder when you don’t have the Forerunner showing you the way.

But not everyone even recognized Christ – or at least who he was – in that time and place either.  St. John tells us in our first reading that people don’t recognize that we are children of God because they didn’t recognize God in Christ in the first place.  So if we miss Jesus in some situation or person, well, our mistake is not unique to us.

During the Christmas season, we are celebrating the Incarnation: the presence of God among us.  Of course, this isn’t just about the presence of God among us two thousand years ago, but his real presence among us in every person, in every place and blessing, and especially in the Eucharist.  During this time, we might gaze on the manger and long to have been there gazing into the face of Christ.  We can gaze into the face of Christ today by taking time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or time to reach out to someone in need.  During this time, we might imagine ourselves next to the Manger on that night long ago, and long to have been there, holding the Christ Child in our arms.  In a few minutes, we can come to the Altar and receive our Jesus and hold him in our hands in the Eucharist, receiving him body and blood, soul and divinity.  Jesus is just as incarnate, just as Emmanuel, God-with-us, now as he was back then.

We will be strengthened by the Word and the Eucharist today to go forward and see Christ all around us.  Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!

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