During this Epiphany time, we continue to see various Epiphanies of the Lord, that is, we continue to see Christ manifested in different ways. Today, I think we see our Lord manifested as lover.
If you have time today, go back, and prayerfully read the first reading. It’s one of my favorite selections from the first letter of Saint John. This reading tells us quite clearly that you can see the presence of God in those who love one another. I think we should all memorize the first line of that reading, because it’s key:
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Any time you’re in the presence of real love, you’re in the presence of God. “Knows God” here carries special meaning: knowing God in this sense means you have entered into his life and are wrapped up in his presence. Love is how you know you’re a disciple, how you know you’re on the way to heaven.
And it’s not something we do on our own; in fact it’s never something we do first: God is always the first lover. Listen to the last verse of the first reading again:
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
God chooses to love us first and love us best. God shows us how to love, right up there on that ugly Cross. There is nothing God won’t do for love of us.
So as Jesus comes into his life and ministry, we see him manifested as a lover. He would sooner turn five puny loaves of bread and a couple of scraggly-looking fish into a sumptuous meal for thousands, than turn them away to fend for themselves. Love always gives, love never stops until it has given everything, and then love still gives more. That’s why the Cross is not the end, and the Resurrection is a glorious beginning.
Today, Jesus is manifested as God’s love, freely given if we would freely receive it. May God’s love change us all today, make us look more like God himself. Happy Epiphany!