Feast of the Epiphany
In many ways I wish we, like the Eastern Church, had kept the practice of gift-giving tied to this feast rather than Christmas. In that way we might more easily see that the gifts we bring are laid before the child Jesus—gifts to him, not really to ourselves. Traditionally this made for more modest gift-giving and focused on what others really needed, not just on buying for the sake of having a gift for everyone.
As we celebrate the feast on this Sunday, take the images of the feast and reflect on how they might become active in your life. Think of the magi, who journey from the time of the rising of the star (the birth) to the time they find the child. In Matthew’s Gospel the implication is that this might have taken up to two years. What call of God to us is so clear that we would follow it for that long of time, no matter the challenges and obstacles? In Christian legend the magi come from all the ends of the earth—in what ways are we called to let go of our too narrow race, ethnic, and ideological horizons?
Think of the star. These searchers for wisdom scanned the sky night after night looking for signs of God. What are we doing on a daily, regular basis that prepares us to see the signs of God in our lives? Daily prayer? Bible reading? Reflective thinking on the day’s events? Spiritual or other reading that expands our horizons?
Think of the advisers to Herod who had the ability to know the truth—the child is to be born in Bethlehem—but no desire to be like the magi and seek out that truth on their own. They were more comfortable in Jerusalem, in their secure positions. Where in our lives have we become so secure that, even though we know a larger truth, it does not really affect how we live or act? Think of Herod himself, who connives to find the location of what he thinks of as a child-king, rival to the throne, and is willing to do unspeakable evil to all the innocent children to get his way. Where are we willing, if not to do such evil, then to turn our heads and look the other way when it is being done because of fear?
Think of Joseph and Mary who are absorbing these events, trying to make sense of what it all means, to do the best for their child. Where do events in our life have the potential to overwhelm us, where we have to have some patience to let them unfold and not be too hasty to try to figure it all out? This can be especially true in relationships, in handling changing economic realities, in being caregivers to a loved one, and so on.
Epiphany reminds us that God’s “shining forth” or manifestation to our waiting world did not stop with the birth of Jesus. Rather, that birth gives a direction, a goal, a hope to all authentic human longing for peace and justice, truth and freedom. Do not be afraid to follow at times the long path toward these. They will lead ultimately to the One who is the author of all that is authentically human, the Word made flesh, Jesus.
* Parish Leadership Night Tuesday, January 12
Our next Parish Leadership Night is on January 12. It will be a Zoom meeting, open to all parish members. It is an excellent way to learn about what is happening in the parish and to offer your input into particular issues. We begin with prayer at 6:45 p.m., followed by a time together exploring a topic, and then people go into their chosen subgroup (Worship, Christian Service, Faith Formation, School, Finance), where the business of that group can occur. If you are already a member of any Commission or Council, you will be pre-registered for the meeting and a link will be sent to you. If you are a member of any other group in the parish or someone who is interested in being part of the evening, please go to the stregis.org website, click on “Events” and follow the registration process.
The shared topic for the evening is the Family of Parishes model that has been announced by the Archdiocese. An overview of the model will be given, along with the task of naming what strengths St. Regis brings to our family of parishes, what opportunities we see in being in a family, and what concerns or uncertainties we need to address as we move toward implementing that model. Even if you are not able to attend the Leadership Night I ask that you think through the following questions, jot down some thoughts, and email them prior to the meeting to me or one of the staff members. 1) What is important to St. Regis’ identity and life that cannot be lost as we move toward Family of Parishes? 2) What are areas that are part of who we are and what we do that can be strengthened by being in a Family of Parishes? 3) Given what one knows about other parishes in our family (St. Owen, Holy Name, Queen of Martyrs), what are some things that will benefit St. Regis by closer collaboration with them? 4) Any questions, concerns, or uncertainties that need to be addressed more fully? Thank you.
* Blessings for 2021
I am sure most of us are happy to put 2020 to rest. On the other hand, it will remain a truly memorable and important year. The courage and strength of families fighting through illness, and for many, the untimely death of loved ones; the shock to our economy and the recognition that we do not need to be so tied to “things;” the greater time at home with family, and both the challenges and the opportunities that it has brought us; the scaling back of social intimacy—hugs and handshakes, hands on shoulders, gestures of affection; and, for me perhaps the most important reality highlighted—the oneness of the world and the waste of energy we as a world expend by creating unnecessary divisions and enemies.
May the New Year be one where the coronavirus becomes minimized, where the economy opens up sufficient jobs, and where our political differences give way to care for the common good. May we find the ability to breathe and act and live without fear. May each of us experience how precious we are in the eyes of God, and treat one another (including ourselves) accordingly. Blessings on the New Year.