HOMILY FOR FEAST OF EPIPHANY 2011
By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus & Divine mercy Parish, Franklin, MA
www.missionstsergius.org Email: DivineMercyParish@msn.com
The Dictionary defines EPIPHANY as; an appearance, to show forth, to manifest.
All these meanings explain the feast we celebrate today January 2 rather than January 6th this year.
The Epiphany of Our Lord is the day in which we celebrate Almighty God’s eternal plan of Salvation. This particular feast is one of the oldest celebrated by the universal church.
Often it is known as Three Kings’ Day
As with most aspects of the Christian liturgical calendar, Epiphany has theological significance as a teaching tool in the church.
The Wise Men or Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as "King" and so were the first to "show" or "reveal" Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ.
The gifts they are said to have presented represented the Kingship of Christ (Gold), The Son of God (Frankincense used as an offering to God) and Myrrh which was used to dress the mortal body of those who died thereby proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus.
This act of worship by the Magi, which corresponded to Simeon’s blessing that this child Jesus would be "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32), was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few.
This is a time of focusing on Christian brotherhood and fellowship, especially in healing the divisions of prejudice and bigotry that we all too often created separations between God’s children.
God’s children are separated from the Sacraments and members of a family because they do not conform to the desires of others. It doesn’t matter that they live a good life not hurting others, being generous and forgiving of the hurts inflicted on them.
Today many who proclaim to be believers of Christ’s teaching try to exclude people for proclaiming their love of God because they have been divorced or God created them with a homosexual orientation. They use passages from scripture to try to justify their positions. Unfortunately they use translations out of context. Nowhere in scripture did Jesus ever preach or say anything about homosexuality. In three of the Gospels we read these words; “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”(Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30;, Matthew 22:37) which Jesus is said to have proclaimed.
At this time of the Church year, we are called to reflect on the truths found in the teachings of Jesus.
We are called to heal in the same way that Christ healed.
In the last few days I personally have experienced the healing power of God when one gives their life over to God with complete trust that God will provide and do what is best for you.
By forgiving those who have done us wrong, by being generous to those in need, by having compassion for those who are ill.
As anyone who has ever undergone an operation knows, healing takes time, it does not happen over night but if we work at it each and every day healing will occur.
In today’s world, there are many ills that need to be healed.
We need to address the separation between the haves and the have-nots.
All around the globe, even here in the United States, people are going without proper nutrition because they cannot afford to buy groceries and their necessary medicines.
People are living in unsanitary conditions because they cannot afford decent housing.
We need to look around and find those who need help, the aged, the parentless children, the struggling faith community that needs some financial assistance to develop programs or repairs or just to pay the rent for their worship space such as our ministry which struggles daily.
If we open our eyes and hearts we can all find a way of discovering, within ourselves, the message of this feast of Epiphany.
We can put the message of Christ’s coming to work here on earth now.
By Baptism we have been called to be the hands, heart and soul of Christ, we are called to be copartners in His promise, His disciples living His message and the message of Christ’s Glory shining through us.
Let us all now affirm that we will increase our commitment to the love of God and His beloved Son and Our Blessed Mother by making a new resolution to live our faith by, not only words, but by action.
I close with the alternative opening prayer from the liturgy of the feast of Epiphany.
Father of light, unchanging God, today you reveal to men of faith the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh.
Your light is strong, Your love is near; draw us beyond the limits which the world imposes, to the life where Your Spirit makes all life complete. We ask this through Christ our lord and savior.