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Christmas Homilies

Friday after Epiphany

Today’s readings
This was for the school children.

How many of you have already taken down your Christmas decorations?  I think probably a lot of people have done that.  Probably if you go to some of the stores, you’ll see Valentine’s day decorations and candy for sale.  In our world, we always want to move on to the next thing right away.  

But our Church is different.  In the Catholic Church, we celebrate things for a while, these big things like Christmas and Epiphany, and later on, Easter.  We celebrate a whole season of these important feasts, because, well, they’re important to us!  At Christmas time, we remember that God loved us so much that he sent his only Son to be born among us so that we could come to know that we are loved, and so that we can learn and follow the Way to heaven.  At Epiphany, the message of Christmas is continued and we celebrate that Christ is the Light of the World, that he came to shed the light of God’s love into every dark corner of our world and our lives.

So that’s important Good News, and we want to celebrate it for a while.  That’s why our decorations are still up: we didn’t forget to take them down!  They’ll stay up and help us to celebrate until this coming Sunday, the official end of the Christmas season for us.  But today, we continue to celebrate the Epiphany, which was last Sunday.

When we celebrate the Epiphany, we usually think about the visit of the Three Kings, which was our Gospel reading last Sunday.  And that’s a part of the Epiphany: it helped us to see that Jesus came to be the King of kings (that’s what the Gold was for), that he came to be our High Priest (that’s what the frankincense was for), and that he came to die for our sins (that’s what the myrrh was for – it was used to anoint the dead for burial).  But today we still celebrate the Epiphany, and we look in the readings for light, especially light that helps us to see Jesus and what he came to do for us.

In our Gospel today, the light shows us that Jesus came to be a healer.  The leper says to him, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean!”  I think that was two things.  First, it was a prayer: the man desperately wanted to be healed of leprosy so that he could be an active member of the community again.  But it was also a kind of a profession of faith.  Here he is saying that he knows Jesus can do what he wishes to do: if Jesus wishes, he certainly has the power to heal him, to make him clean.  The man says what he believes, and Jesus responds to that belief. 

When we believe, when we trust that God can do what he wants and needs to do in us, then that opens a little door in our hearts and in our lives.  Then Jesus can and will come in, because he wishes to make all of us clean.  We might not need to be healed of leprosy, but we all need to be healed of something.  We all certainly need to be healed of our sins, of the times we have ignored the light of Jesus’ presence among us.  

So maybe in our prayers today, we can say to Jesus, just like the man with leprosy did: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”  You can make me clean of my illnesses.  You can make me clean of my sins.  You can take away whatever stands in the way of being friends with you.  Lord, please do that.  Please make me clean.  And then, when we pray that, let’s listen for what Jesus says to us.  I just know he’s going to say the same thing he said to the man with leprosy: “I do will it.  Be made clean.”

Come, Lord Jesus.  Fill us with your light.  Make us clean from the inside out.