2015-01-04, Epiphany of the Lord, A Chocolate Chip Epiphany

Homily 01-04-15
Epiphany of the Lord, B
Is 60:1-6; Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6; Mt 2:1-12

 (Scriptures included after homily)

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Happy New Year everyone, and a very blessed Epiphany to you all!

If we were to look up the word Epiphany, in the Catholic sense, we would come to find it described, as “the manifestation of the Lord.”  And unless we are fairly literate in Church terminology, that may not help us in our understanding of exactly what an epiphany really is.  So let’s look at an example.

And instead of using the word “manifestation,” let’s use the word revelation.  Because we all know that a revelation is what happens when something hidden is revealed:  We turned ON the light, and it revealed that someone else was in the room.  That’s a revelation!

But an epiphany is not JUST a revelation.
And we’ll see why, with this example . . .

Suppose I worked at a bakery that sold chocolate chip cookies.  And the place was always packed with people.  And I just couldn’t understand why so many people kept coming to our store.  But it really kept me hopping!

Year after year I worked my tail off in that store. And I never understood why it was always so busy.  Then one day, someone told me how much they really loved our cookies.  They told me that our cookies were the most wonderful cookies they ever tasted and that they would die for those cookies!

Well, you know what, I just had a revelation!  And now, I had the choice of believing
that person, or just passing them off as another “Kookie Cookie!”  But even so, I still had no idea why I was always SO busy.

Yet, if I truly listened to and heard that revelation, I just might, even go as far as tasting one of those cookies myself . . .  Something I had never done before.  And when my own taste buds told me how incredibly amazing those cookies were, then all of a sudden, I would understand why so many people kept coming in to buy them, and why I was always so busy.

I would have had – an epiphany!

So, an epiphany
is a revelation understood.

And a Catholic Epiphany is our understanding that Jesus Christ is God.  And believe it or not, that’s WAY better than ANY chocolate chip cookie that could ever be made!  You see, God manifests or reveals Himself in the Person of Jesus.  And the magi understood this.  And the shepherds understood this.  And the prophets foretold it.  And John the Baptist boldly proclaimed it for everyone to hear!  But remember, a revelation is only an epiphany, when it is understoodIt’s that bolt of lightning that strikes us, when we say, “Ohhhh, NOW I get it!

That’s an Epiphany!

Remember when (Saul) Paul was riding off to persecute some more Christians.  How, all of a sudden, he was knocked to the ground by a blinding light.  You see, Paul had a revelation!  And the voice of Jesus told Paul to stop persecuting Him.  Well, Paul could have responded by thinking that it was all just a nightmare, just a bad dream, in which case, he ONLY had a revelation.  But instead, Paul believed everything that he heard. He understood that the revelation was important, and he acted on it.  And that revelation then became an epiphany to Paul.  It literally changed his life!

You see, an Epiphany is a Revelation understood . . .

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Which brings us to the LIGHT.

Throughout the Christmas Season we’ve heard lots of references to light, and they were all little revelations.  But did we truly understand them?  Did we understand them well enough to call them – an Epiphany?

We heard the Prophet Isaiah say today, “Rise up Jerusalem, your light has come.  The Glory of the Lord shines upon you.”  Just as it did for Paul!

In the Christmas Readings we heard how the Glory of the Lord shone upon the shepherds, as they heard the voice of an Angel announcing the birth of their Messiah.  It was a revelation, which the shepherds responded to by believing the Angel, finding the baby Jesus, and understanding.  For them it was truly an Epiphany!  Their Messiah had come.

And then today we heard how the Magi followed the light of a star to find the Jewish King.  And when they found Him, the Glory of the baby, Lord Jesus shone so brightly upon them, that He became the King of their lives, as well.  Another Epiphany, this time, that Jesus is Lord of ALL, and not just the Jews.

In the Prologue of John’s Gospel, the Evangelist also shares some Light with us in these beautifully poetic words, where He writes:

“In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through Him,

and without Him nothing came to be.

What came to be through Him was LIFE.

and this life was the LIGHT of the human race.

The LIGHT shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has NOT overcome it.”
Jn 1:1-5

You see, brothers and sisters, this LIFE, that was created by the Word, who IS God, this LIFE, who is the LIGHT of the human race, the LIGHT that shone on Paul, and the shepherds, and the magi, this Light, this GLORY of God IS – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ . . .  And NO Herod, and NO Pilate, and NO crucifixion, and NO terrorist persecutions, and NO disease, and NOT even Death itself can Overcome the LIGHT and the LIFE of Jesus within us!  And when we can truly understand THIS, it will be our own personal EPIPHANY too!

You see the TRUE Epiphany is that, God loves everyone in the world equally: Jew or magi, rich or poor, child or aged, saint or sinner.  GOD LOVES EVERYONE!

And through God’s Revelation to the world; through our Lord Jesus Christ; the world has the free-will choice to BELIEVE that Fact, or not.  It can either BE their Epiphany, or just another ignored revelation.

But thanks be to God – WE believe!

As we begin this new year, let’s make it our New Year’s resolution to open our eyes, and our ears, and our hearts to recognize God’s many, many revelations to us.  They may come through other people.  They may come through the sacraments.  They may come through our readings or our prayers.  But however we see God’s revelations to us, IF we just reflect on them, instead of discarding them as daydreams or nightmares, you never know when we too, might be struck by an Epiphany.  And by the end of the year, we just might be amazed at how those Epiphanies have brightened our lives, and how much we’ve grown through them!

And I promise, it’ll be better than any chocolate chip cookie you’ve ever tasted!

jmp 01-04-15
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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 01-04-15
The Epiphany of the Lord
, Cycle B

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.

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 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. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

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. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

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. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

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. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

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 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.

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  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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