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Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

January 2, 2020

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

January 5, 2020

Isaiah 60:6-1

Psalm 72

Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Matthew 2:1-12

I suspect that one time or another you may have visited a religious bookstore.  Recently I dropped into the religious gift shop located here on the grounds of the Malvern Retreat House to pick up a few packages of Christmas cards.  As I was shopping I couldn’t help but listen to the Christmas music that they were playing.  My first thought was that I had no idea that Elvis sang so much Christian music.  But then I heard a song that didn’t fit in the store.  It had more of a modern pop genre to it.  I learned that the song was entitled “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield.  What caught my attention were the lyrics, “Today is where your book begins.  The rest is unwritten.”

Not a bad sentiment, I think, for the start of a new year.  And I do think it speaks in a meaningful way to today’s Feast of the Epiphany, as well as today’s Gospel.

To begin with there is much about the magi that is “unwritten.”  We don’t know for certain that there were three.  We don’t know for certain where they came from or when exactly they visited the Christ child.  All we have, really, is the scripture account from Saint Matthew.

What is important, and what makes this great story matter for us here and now, is that they indeed made the journey.  The magi left the land they knew, following a light, to a place of uncertainty, and discovered the Savior of the World.  As a result their journey changed the direction of their lives.

Matthew tells us, “They returned home by another way.”  The old way of traveling would no longer work.  They needed to follow a different path.  At a critical moment in their journey, they realized what the lyrics of that song said, “Today is where your book begins.  The rest is still unwritten.”  They needed to alter the story of their lives. 

Sisters and brothers, the story of the Epiphany is about discovery – following a star to the source of salvation.  Today’s scripture readings are overflowing with references to the light.  The theme and spirit of Epiphany is struck by the opening words in today’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah; “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”  These are the words of redemption, relief, deliverance and hope.

Once the magi arrive in Bethlehem, they cannot contain themselves.  We heard, “They were overjoyed at seeing the star.”  They had arrived at the source of all their yearning. Their search had come to an end.  They had found what they were looking for. 

On one level, the story of the Epiphany is a story of how God is made manifest to the world.  However, on another level, it is also a story about making the journey, and changing direction. It is, whether we choose to believe it or not, about conversion.  It is about finding another way of walking the journey of life.  It is a way that has been transformed by a star, by a light, by Jesus Christ Himself.

During Holy Week in 1941, Thomas Merton made his first trip to a Trappist monastery in Kentucky.  He wrote in his journal, “I should tear out all the other pages of this book and all the other pages of everything else I ever wrote and begin here.”  Merton discovered, like many others throughout history, that he needed to change the story of his life and take a different route.  He ended up joining the Trappist’s several months later and became, in time, one of the most widely read and influential voices in American Catholicism.  Like the magi, Thomas Merton had an encounter with God’s divine presence – something spoke to him and it changed him forever.

But what about all the people who are not called to become priests, deacons, monks or to the religious life?  We are called to conversion as well. 

Friends, an “epiphany,”  by way of definition, is a “discovery or an amazing insight.”  BAM!  It makes things clear, in a flash, and all of a sudden.  Today we are all asked to do something.  The Feast of the Epiphany asks us to begin our own journey.  It asks us to follow the light.  It asks us, like the magi, to bring our gifts to the Lord, to share them with Him, to honor Him, and to be open to whatever He may do with them.  It may very well mean travelling a different path and revisiting the story of our lives.  Please believe that it will be more than worth the effort.

“Today is where your book begins.  The rest is still unwritten.”

Question of the Day:  What gifts do you bring to the Lord?  Do you bring your time, talent and treasure?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to hear your call.  Let me fulfill Your will as I follow your Divine Light.   

Prosit

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

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