Letter Epiphany 2015
My dear Sisters,
Thank you for your many greetings, messages and gifts for Christmas and New Year. Thank you also to all who joined me on the journey to the crib, in company with the shepherds, sharing your own ‘shepherd experience’.
If it had not been for night and its darkness the shepherds might not have found the Child Jesus and the Magi might not have discerned the uniqueness of the star pointing them in the direction of the new-born King. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned … you have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase.” (Is 9) Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world. It celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. (cf Catechism of the Church: 528)
It is a festival of Light and of new understanding of the coming of Jesus to a darkened world. It is not so much about the star, the magi and their gifts but about the life of Jesus. It celebrates the manifestation of his divine nature, to the world, which takes place through his humanity; because it is through Jesus’ humanity that we see God.“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given … he shall be called Mighty God, Prince of Peace. ” (Is 9)
The feast of Epiphany reminds us of the universality of redemption and salvation, challenging us to show that same universal spirit in all our dealings and relationships with one another. It is a revelation of the Being of God, of his universal love for all people and not simply limited to a few chosen ones. In celebrating this Feast we ask that Jesus Christ may be manifest in us, and our lives may be a light to the world. Not only are we transformed by the light of Christ we become illumination and our lives become epiphanies of Christ for each other.“True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.” (Evangelii Gaudium: 88)
Epiphany is an invitation to ponder afresh on the mystery of the Incarnation. In fact it is the manifestation of the divine presence in our day to day lives; of recognizing and welcoming the numerous ways in which the sacred takes flesh among us. It is a time of thinking about encounters; how the sacred appears along our journey, since God communicates with us through persons and events. It also points to our responsibility to listen and discern what we have to offer and where we can offer it. In our troubled and darkened world of today where there is still an increase of serious disease, natural disaster and endless conflict and injustice – always involving innocent people and children, this profound truth about Jesus, Word made flesh and Son of God gives us hope.
The church needs to be a “light”, an “epiphany” in the world but can only be such if each of us becomes a sign of God’s goodness just where we are called to live. Let us open our hearts and our doors this year to those in need – who may be among us, or who may also be on our doorstep.
The ‘wise men’ are not welcomed by a king on a throne, but by a Treasured Child in the arms of his Mother. Let us ponder in ‘silence, adoration and rejoice’ with Mary, Mother of God, asking her to help us along the way that leads to the fullness of love. In the name of Jesus, her Son, the Light of the world, Prince of Peace, may we have the courage and big-heartedness to look beyond our prejudices, our remembrance of past hurts and be ‘spreaders’ of the light, peace and joy of Christ from one heart to another, first of all in our communities and in the place where are.
For the 2015 World Day of Peace, (recommended for reading and prayer) Pope Francis challenges all of us ‘to recognize every other person as a brother or sister with God-given dignity’. Such recognition, he says, will lead to PEACE.
A happy Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord!
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