Lettera Madre Epiph 2016
My dear Sisters,
Happy Epiphany of the Lord Jesus!
Epiphany invites us to be part of the pilgrimage of humanity, by joining the magi, in their external and internal
journey of exploration: they understand the language of creation, and follow a star to find the God of history in
a cattle stable, lying in a manger.
Pope Francis expresses it like this: On the feast of the Epiphany, as we recall Jesus’ manifestation to humanity in
the face of a Child, may we sense the Magi at our side, as wise companions on the way. Their example helps us
to lift our gaze towards the star and to follow the great desires of our heart. They teach us not to be content
with a life of mediocrity, of “playing it safe”, but to let ourselves be attracted always by what is good, true and
beautiful… by God, who is all of this, and so much more! And they teach us not to be deceived by appearances,
by what the world considers great, wise and powerful. We must not stop at that. It is necessary to guard the
faith. Today this is of vital importance: to keep the faith. We must press on further, beyond the darkness,
beyond the voices that raise alarm, beyond worldliness, beyond so many forms of modernity that exist today.
We must press on towards Bethlehem, where, in the simplicity of a dwelling on the outskirts, beside a mother
and father full of love and of faith, there shines forth the Sun from on high, the King of the universe. By the
example of the Magi, with our little lights, may we seek the Light and keep the faith. May it be so.” (6 Jan 2014)
These wise men braved the elements, undertaking this hazardous journey because their minds were set on
reaching their goal – Jesus. This incident shows us that the plan of God in the revelation of Jesus Christ is one of
faith, worship and contemplation. The wise men respond to the revelation God had given them in coming to
look for Jesus, and when they found Him – we are not told what they said we simply know what they did –
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother
Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him”. (Mt 2: 10) “Their humble courage was what enabled them
to bend down before the child of poor people and to recognize in him the promised King, the one they had set
out, on both their outward and their inward journey, to seek and to know.” (Benedict, 6 Jan 2012)
We are reminded by the experience of the Magi that all who make the difficult and sometimes, risky journey to
the truth will eventually discover it and be changed forever. There is no going back to a ‘normal’ way of life.
When we meet Jesus Christ and come to know who he really is, our lives are changed and we can never be the
same again – only when we encounter him and bow down and worship Him in contemplation, can we hope to
begin to share in his mission of love and mercy.
The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has issued, in this year
dedicated to Consecrated Life, a third letter “Contemplate”, following “Rejoice” and “Scrutinize”. It is an
invitation to all consecrated persons to live the contemplative dimension in spite of the many things they have
to do in their daily lives, in order to rediscover that vital relationship with God that allows them to see
humanity and creation with His eyes. During one of his homilies at St Martha’s, Pope Francis emphasized that:
“The contemplative dimension is indispensable while dealing with urgent and grave issues. The more our
mission urges us to go forth toward the existential outskirts, the more our heart feels the need to be intimately
united to that of Christ, which is full of mercy and love” (May 22, 2015).
At the beginning of the Holy Year, each one is invited to follow Jesus, the Countenance of the Father’s mercy:
“each consecrated person is called to contemplate and witness the countenance of God as the One who
understands and comprehends our weaknesse, (cf. Ps 102), to pour the balsam of closeness upon the human
wounds, to contrast with the cynicism of indifference” (Contemplate, 59).
These words Bl Antonio Rosmini sum up what it means to approach the cattle shed. In writing to the Sisters of
Providence, on 24 December 1846, he also speaks clearly to us today: “But yes, my dear daughters, … let us by
favour of Mary, the Virgin Mother and St Joseph, enter into the cave which became the royal palace of the King
of Kings and the Lord of glory. Let us approach with humble reverence, but without fear, so as to offer our
homage to the Son of God, the eternal Word made flesh for us and born in a stable, placed in a manger among
the cattle (such a mystery of love, a miracle of mercy!)…so in these sacred days let us offer him our hearts.”
(AL Vol V, 174).
We give thanks to God for those who, in these days, are beginning their pilgrimage of discovery – towards
Jesus: 14 Junior Sisters who renewed their vows and 4 Novices who made First Profession on 3 Jan in Muheza,
While we thank God for all the people – living and dead – who have been part of our journey so far, let us
become ‘epiphanies’ of loving mercy and goodness for one another and for all whom we meet on our
pilgrimage during 2016.
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