Reflections from Fr. Steven on the Epiphany

My dear friends,

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany, which is a Greek word that means “manifestation.” God has manifested Himself in Christ, and manifested Himself in such a way that inspires great amazement and wonder. The Creator of the whole universe has assumed a created human nature. The baby whom the Magi adore as God and in him see that God has hidden His divine glory and power in the weakness and frailty of our human nature, in the helpless littleness of an infant. He is completely dependent on His mother and stepfather for everything.

It’s amazing that God would submit Himself to this radical dependence of needing his mother and stepfather’s arms and feet to carry him from place to place. Needing their eyes to look out for his well-being and safety. The feast of Epiphany highlights the amazing fact that God chose this humble path of littleness and dependence as the way to manifest Himself to the world.

This dependence of the infant Jesus upon his mother and stepfather is in some ways similar to how Christ depends upon His Church, His Mystical Body and upon each one of us. When Christ ascended to the Father, He ascended body and soul and the human nature He took from Mary no longer walked the roads of Galilee or the streets of Jerusalem. His physical hands were no longer able to feed the poor or touch the sick. His voice was not heard on the hills or in the synagogues. His face was no longer seen in the market place. His resurrected, glorified body ceased to know what it was like to suffer.

Although Christ ascended body and soul into Heaven, He found another way to remain visibly present on earth, and that way is through His mystical body, the Church. It is in and through all the individual members of this body that Jesus can manifest Himself again and that He can walk the face of the earth. It’s quite amazing that God chooses to need us and depend on us to manifest and make Him present on earth.

No one knew this better than Bl. Mother Teresa. Jesus asked her, as he asks every disciple, “Will you let me use your hands to serve the poor and the rejected of the world? Will you give me your feet so I can go, in you, to the sick, the lonely and imprisoned? Will you be my eyes that see the injustice of the world and try to make a difference? Will you give me your mouth so that in you I can speak words of forgiveness, truth, and kindness? Will  you give me your heart so that I can love, through you, all the hearts that are starving for love? Will you be a vessel of my patience and compassionate love to all the those who struggle with addictions and mental illness? Will you be my voice to comfort the weary and encourage those who carry heavy hearts and cheer them up with laughter? Will you give me your pain and your suffering, uniting it with me, so that I can show to the world through you the redemptive value and meaning of suffering?”

At every Mass we respond to this request and desire of Jesus, offering to Him the gift of our humanity, our whole life—hands, feet, heart, soul, eyes, and mouth—all that we are, all that we have. And like the Epiphany of His birth, our Lord’s presence to us in the Eucharist is again manifested in a very poor, humble, little way, teaching us that all power and authority are meant to be placed at the service of love, for the building up of goodness through nonviolent means. As Pope Francis likes to say, to usher in “a revolution of tenderness and gentleness,” all for the purpose of building up God’s Kingdom.

Through Christ’s presence within us, the mystery of Epiphany continues. God manifesting himself through our human life and activity, making use of us to bring Him into our world, which needs so much mercy and healing. The only Gospel that some people may ever read is the Gospel of our lives. The only Christ they may ever encounter is the Christ they see and encounter in us, through our prayers, our words, and our actions.

God love you,

Fr. Steven



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