To this coming Sunday, January 3, so that we may celebrate together, we have
transferred the Feast of the Epiphany, normally celebrated on January 6, the 12 th
day of Christmas.
As many of you know, “epiphany” means manifestation. We celebrate God
incarnate, the Word made flesh, made manifest to the Gentiles (i.e. to the rest of
the world, beyond the Jewish community), in the persons of the mysterious Magi
(wise men). The Magi come reading a star, indicating the birth of a king. Beyond
their astrology, however, we can perhaps say that they come because they have
been given a gift from Christ, before even seeing him: faith. They are given faith,
not because of privilege, but because they are seekers. God likes seekers. God
extends Himself to those who seek.
Faith enables us to discern mystery from above. With the eyes of the body, they
see a fragile infant. With the eyes of faith, they “see” God. Only faith can bridge
the apparent abyss between child and God. It is very much like our situation
regarding the Eucharist, or Communion. Only faith can bridge the apparent abyss
between bread and God. Thanks to faith, to the Magi Christ is made known.
Thanks to faith, to us—as with the disciples on the road to Emmaus who initially
do not recognize the risen Lord, Christ is “made known…in the breaking of the
bread” (Luke 24:35).
If this is true, then we ought, as the prophet Isaiah tells us (first reading: Isaiah
60:1-6), to “Arise, shine; for our light has come, and the glory of
the LORD has risen upon us.” Let us arise.
Yours in the Holy Child,
What does one do when things don’t go as planned, or don’t seem to make sense? Ask
Joseph, the husband of Mary! In the narrative regarding the birth of Jesus in Matthew’s
gospel (1:18-25), we read that Mary is pregnant before her time. “Mary had been
engaged to Joseph” which means, according to Jewish custom, considered husband-
wife. But, “before they lived together”, i.e., before they consummated their marriage,
Mary “was found to be with child.” Houston, we have a problem! Not the thing to have
happen in first-century Judea: such unchasteness was punishable by stoning (cf.
Deuteronomy 22:22 and Leviticus 20:10). Oh, dear Joseph, what you had to go through for the
sake of the Incarnation...
What was going through Joseph’s mind? Embarrassment? Anger? Shame? Is
Joseph thinking, “I thought I had married church lady!” I like to presume that Joseph
opted to go beyond what he may have initially felt, to gaze upon Mary with eyes of faith,
and to act accordingly. Faith leads to trust. Joseph trusted and wanted to give Mary to
the One to Whom she belongs. Contrary to what the cultural tendency may have been
at the time, Joseph knows in his heart that his love for Mary does not give him
ownership rights over her. Oh, dear Joseph, what you had to go through for the sake of
the Incarnation. Because of your faithfulness, however, you re-received Mary as a new,
Are we not invited, when things don’t go as planned, or don’t seem to make sense, to
trust with the same intensity as Joseph, and, as a result, to experience unexpected
blessings? Let us ask the Holy Spirit for such grace this Christmas.
Yours in Emmanuel,
Christmas is rapidly approaching. There are surely at least a few more preparations,
and it may be easy to get swept into agitation. Let us bear in mind, in the midst if
everything, that the preparation that matters most is that of the heart. And, whose
Christmas preparation better to imitate than that of Mary? Whose assistance better to
seek than that of Mary? If there is someone who knows how to prepare the coming of
Christ, it is Mary.
How did Mary prepare? Aside from the expected material preparations, we see Mary
“treasure all these things in her heart”. Twice in the gospel of Luke this is explicitly
mentioned about Mary: at the visit of the shepherds and at the finding of the 12-year-old
boy Jesus in the Temple. Mary practiced gratitude and let herself be in awe. If we take
time to be quiet, just a few moments, I am certain gratitude and awe will surface in us.
We have every reason to be grateful and in awe.
As Christmas rapidly approaches, may the words of St. Bede (+735), the English monk
and only native of Great Britain to be declared a Doctor of the Church, carry us through
any complexity or challenges associated with the holidays, especially this year:
Christ is the Morning Star,
who, when the night of this world is past,
gives to his saints the promise of the light of life,
and opens everlasting day.
Looking forward with you,
How many of us feel that, in our lives, we have wasted precious time? I know that I do, sometimes with painful regret. There can be a lot of “shoulda coulda”. With more time nowadays to look back over my life, I cannot help but think of missed opportunities, conversations, hands that I could have held and helped. The cause of the time wasted? If I am honest, and take ownership: mostly me—my fatigue, my lack of boldness, my selfishness.
St Peter, in this Sunday’s second reading (2 Peter 3:8-15), very mysteriously tells us that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day”. In the midst of the guilt and discouragement felt over time wasted, there is a ray of hope. With our Lord, in fact, perhaps the time can be “caught up”. If I offer the time to Him, He Whose love is powerful enough to “compensate”, what should have and could have been is somehow not lost. This is rather difficult to articulate (and it certainly does not let me off the hook forstriving to be more awake, more courageous, and more selfless regarding my time!).
St. Peter continues his letter: giving us hope, “The Lord is patient with you”; putting everything into liberating context, “we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home”; and encouraging us to live in this light: “Beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation”.
Advent includes an invitation to honest evaluation of our use of time, as we rejoice in the Lord’s salvific patience and we look forward to time to being lovingly seized by eternity.
Yours in our Lord,
The Rev. Dominique Peridans