2014-01-05, Epiphany, Finding Jesus

Homily 01-05-14
Epiphany A, 7:00, 10:00 Masses
Is 60:1-6; Ps 72:1-13; Eph 3:2-6; Mt 2:1-12

(Scriptures included after homily)

There is an ancient nursery rhyme that was used to calm children’s fear of the darkness at bedtime.  And it went like this:

star brightStar Light, Star Bright,
first Star I see tonight.
Wish I may, Wish I might,
have the wish, I wish tonight.

They say, if you ever want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.
And if you ever want to see a shooting star, you have to look up to the sky.
But, do we know what we have to do to find Jesus?

magi starThe magi knew that it would take dedicated perseverance.  It would take crossing a hot desert, encountering a deceitful king, and following a star.  You see, they bought the ticket and they were gazing at the sky.  But you know what?  It just all might sound a little foolish.  It might even sound superstitious. Yet behind, their following of that bright star, came years of preparation, intense study, and a whole lot of faith.

So what’s it take for us to find Jesus?

Well first, just like the magi, it will take some preparation.  And here we ARE!  We’ve come to the right place.  Maybe we’ve had to drag ourselves out into the cold, from our warm, cozy beds, but we’ve made it!  We are here, and we are prepared.  So what’s next?

Well next, if we want to find Jesus, it will also take a little study.  And again, we’ve come to the right place for that.  Because here we listen to and study the Scriptures.  We recite what we believe in the Creed.  We pray together and we even sing songs to learn about Jesus.  And if we truly and sincerely want to find Jesus, we might even do more of these things on our own, or in small communities.

And you know what?  It might not always be easy.  Sometimes it might feel like we’re all alone, in the middle of a desert.  And sometimes we may even run into ‘deceitful kings’ who would like nothing less than to see us fail.

And that’s where the third step is so crucial in our quest of finding Jesus.  We must have a faith, strong enough to unreservedly follow that bright star.  And our just being here today, on this brutally cold, winter’s morning, is proof in itself of our faith, our dedication to finding Jesus.

The Prophet Isaiah said, “Raise your eyes and look about, and you shall be Radiant at what you see.”  “Your heart will throb and overflow from the riches all about you.  Here in this place, together in this Community, there is a Radiance, and His Name is Jesus.  And we can always find Him, with a little Preparation, Study and Faith.

Now, I know, we often hear many of the same words, every time we come to Mass.  But you know, they’re really not the same!  The question is: Are we truly looking into the sky for the light of that special star?  Or are we just glancing at a blur of white dots?  The question is: Do we truly want to find Jesus, or are we just lost somewhere out there in the cold darkness?

You see, every Mass has something different, something special, that’s calling out to each and every one of us.  And if we find it, it might even BE “the Epiphany” of our day!  And yet, we can only find it if we are truly watching and listening.

If we think of St. Paul.  He was not struck down with that ‘bolt of lightning – revelation of Jesus,’ while he was pleasantly trotting along on his horse.  No!  Paul had climbed the pinnacle of revolution against Jesus, and there was only one place left for him to go – DOWN!

Sometimes finding Jesus might just be that blinding light of Epiphany, when we think we’re standing so tall without Him.  But we don’t have to fall in order to find Him.  All we have to do is look.  All we have to do is open our eyes of faith.

And when Father holds Jesus up in that Communion Rite, and says “Behold, the Lamb of God,” we should all feel blinded by the brilliant radiance of our star, Jesus.  And our hearts should be throbbing and overflowing with the riches that we are about to receive!

And that radiance will then be magnified all around us, as His Love reflects back out from every one of us to one another.  And I know that it truly does, because I can see it, and I can feel it, looking out at you.

You see, those magi wanted to find Jesus so intensely, that they were drawn to Him like pin to a powerful magnet.  That star’s light was so bright to them, that they didn’t even need eyes to see it.  And when they finally found Him, they were so awestruck at the magnificent beauty of His Divinity, that they didn’t even have to think about what to do next.  They fell down at his feet in humble worship and they offered Him the very best gift, that anyone could ever possibly give to Jesus.  They offered – themselves.  Their throbbing and overflowing hearts were His!

You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus IS HERE!  He is alive in Word and Sacrament.  He is alive in you and me.  And Jesus is here for every single person in the world.  Not just the Jews, not just the Priests, but everyone with an open heart to look. He is our bright, shining Epiphany Star.  And we are like mirrors, reflecting His bright light, His love and His hope out into the world.

So now we can slightly edit that old Nursery Rhyme to say .  .  .

Star Light, Star Bright,
brightest Star I see tonight.
Know I may, Know I might,
have Jesus always in my sight.

jmp 01-05-14
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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 01-05-14
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

First Reading:  Is 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.  Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.  Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

R Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king’s son; He shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R
Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.  May he rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute. All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.
R
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save.
R

Second Reading:  Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace  that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.  It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Gospel:  Mt 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:  “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out.  And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.   They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

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