Sunday, January 4, 2015

Blog # 427 Epiphany

Blog #  427 Epiphany

          A song book, a home video of Grandma's eightieth birthday party, playing cards, seeds, a recipe book, a crucifix, the Gospel passage telling us of the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem.

          What have all of these in common?   There is something real in each of them that comes to us from the past and reaches to the present, inviting a response.  Sing it again, play it again, plant another garden, bake another cake. Remember Grandma.  See her wonderful smile again. Introduce her to her four year old grandchild, although she died at the age of eighty, seven years ago.  This is how we loved her on her eightieth birthday.  This is how she sang for us.  This is what she said about Grandpa, who had died twenty years before.

             It is different, yes, but true, and the same as it was when we were there with her thirteen years ago.  The video helps us remember.  Watching it again helps us renew and grow in our love for her.  It is not just another TV show. We keep it and plan to watch it again.  It is similar with the other items listed above.  Seeds for more tomatoes.  New and different tomatoes, but the same breed we enjoyed last season, and connected with them in the seed.  The same playing cards, bridge, the same name of the game Mother played last evening, but now you are playing with a different set of friends. 

             You found the recipe for the great spaghetti sauce you enjoyed in that famous restaurant in New York City when you were there for your fifteenth wedding anniversary.  Now it is another special day, your sixteenth anniversary. You are not in New York.  But you remember.  You put the recipe together and it has been cooking almost all day on your stove.  You found all of the ingredients called for in the recipe.  Your kitchen smells very much like a famous restaurant in New York. How happy you and John will be when you light the candles and sit down for supper together.  The
spaghetti sauce has all of the ingredients the recipe called for, but it has the added ingredient that makes it uniquely special this evening, your anniversary love.

          It is something all of this with the feasts we celebrate throughout the liturgical year.  Something
real  happened in the past.  We believe. We remember. We sing it again.  We watch it again.  Jesus is born, and we are there.  Jesus claims to be God.  Jesus teaches,  Jesus dies on the wood. We are there. Jesus asks us the same questions He asked Peter and the other disciples. He tells us the same message He gave in Jerusalem. He offers us the same love He offered in Bethany. We are invited to respond, to make it our own. The same recipe, a new bag of flour!  God' love, in  us.

           Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem. It happened a long time ago, in a far-away place.  They came by camel rather than by air.  They traveled a path in the desert. It was a long and difficult journey. If we realize what our liturgical feasts
are designed to do, we realize we have a part to play, today, in the events in the life of Jesus that we recall and relive in a particular feast.  We have questions to answer. What was happening? Who are the people involved? What did hey think, say, or do?

         Mary and Joseph continue to be present in today's feast. They are faithful servants of  the Lord,
holy ones. We admire them and thank them.  They give us joy in their love for Jesus.  The Magi are discoverers, willing to grow, to follow their star, responsive, self-giving, persevering, rich, humble , blessed.  To be like them we are not called to learn to ride a camel, but how to identify and follow a star. Their physical star may have been Haley's comet.  No doubt they were among many people who
saw it with their physical eyes.  The real star of the Magi was the star that told them of God's plan for them, that invited them to go after it. It was their conscience, and they followed  that star to Jesus.  We have a conscience too; that same star is calling us and leads to the same Jesus the Magi discovered.

            Herod was jealous, fearing and fearsome, selfish, insecure, and violent. We can thank him for teaching us how we should never be.   Finally the ordinary people.  As tradition has handed the story down, the Magi were few in number. Most of the people seem to have been unaware of them and their story. Most of the people were following another agenda.  Maybe later on some of them came to know and believe in Jesus.  Maybe some of them were on Calvary and just watched that go by too. Maybe they did not realize they had a part to play. They are alive today.

               The traditional theological content of today's feast has been a recognition of the divinity of Jesus in the coming of the earthly rulers and wise men to pay Him homage and offer their treasures to Him, and secondly an emphasis on the universality of salvation, and the call to welcome the whole world into the saving love of God in Jesus.  This is seen in the fact the Magi are traditionally given as Gentiles, rather then as Jews or as already members of the People of God and children of Abraham.

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