Epiphany celebrates God's gift to us - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Epiphany celebrates God’s gift to us

Only a week or so ago, if we were so blessed, we gathered together around our family Christmas trees and exchanged gifts large and small, lovingly chosen, the joy on our loved ones’ faces worth every penny and all those trips to the mall.

Now, on this coming Saturday, Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, we will celebrate God’s free and magnificent gift to all humanity. On this wonderful feast, we celebrate the manifestation to the world of the newborn Christ as Messiah, Son of God, and Savior of the world — and to each of us.

The Epiphany story offers intricate and powerful imagery and symbols: the rich and powerful kings finding salvation in a little manger, the humblest of surroundings, and in a helpless infant; the precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh lovingly offered to the one who would make the ultimate sacrifice of love, the gift of his very life for our redemption; the light of the Christmas Star illuminating the Magi’s dark desert journey and leading them to the moment of life-changing discovery and spiritual awakening.

It is quite fitting that we celebrate the Epiphany at this time of year, a time of new beginnings, of new resolve and “New Year’s resolutions.” With the New Year still in its infancy, many of us start anew on personal goals, on journeys to discover better ways of living. Some of us decide to be kind to our bodies: to shed a few pounds, dust off that exercise equipment or give up some unhealthy habit such as smoking. Still others resolve to improve their minds: to take continuing-education courses, learn a new language, or finish that difficult but ultimately enriching book.

May I suggest an additional goal in keeping with our Epiphany theme? Along with improving our physical and mental conditions, might we add some spiritual exercise, as well?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we resolved to journey, just like the Magi, ever closer to the Christ? I can think of no better New Year’s resolution than to make a conscious decision to discover again — and anew — Jesus’ shining light as it reflects in our lives. I can think of no better way of celebrating the Epiphany and profiting from its marvelous message than to let Christ be our light — a light that will overcome the darkest days of worry, sadness and stress that can shroud our lives like the looming winter sky.

Christ is the Epiphany for all of us, the manifestation of hope for everyone, Pope John Paul II once said. Christ is our liberator, our redeemer and the light that guides our path. As they peered into his cradle, the Three Kings must have felt an overwhelming sense of awe, of promise and potential. That promise is ours, as well.

Sadly, many of us do not let Christ lead, or we let earthly distractions interrupt our journey to a better understanding of God’s purpose for us. Many of us lack time, or do not make time, for the spiritual renewal that comes through such things as Scripture study, right behavior with others, quiet retreat and daily prayer.

Spiritual exercise takes resolve — resolve firmer even than the urges that pushed us to make New Year’s resolutions to drop a size or two and to throw away our addictions to things that are bad for us.

The Magi, like many of the leaders of that time, likely were well aware of the prophecies about the Christ. What set them apart is that they made the decision to set out to find Jesus, embarking on what must have been an arduous desert journey, trusting in the hope of the starlight above.

Would that we can be as wise and follow their example.

Let’s resolve to make 2007 a year in which we choose to journey closer to Jesus: to attend Mass as often as we can, to read good spiritual books, to live our Christian beliefs in our treatment of others, to share our own gifts with others, to bask each and every day in Jesus Christ’s saving light.

Peace to all.

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