What is your gift? A reflection on the Epiphany.

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ...

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‘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.”—Matthew 2:11.

It is now a little over two weeks from Christmas and all of the stores have turned to the next holiday.  While the world was finished with the Christmas celebrations, the day after Christmas, the Church continued its celebration until today, with the remembrance of the Baptism of the Lord.  Sunday was the Feast of the Epiphany.  For this week’s Mission Moment, let’s return back to Epiphany.  It is the Feast of Epiphany, or the reminder of the manifestation of God.  We are reminded through the searchers, the magi, who come to offer him Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, what a profound gift this manifestation of God is in our life.

We too are searchers, while we do not bring gifts of gold, frankincense or myrrh to those we encounter, we do bring a manifestation of God’s presence alive in our world.  Do we live in a way that we can see our lives as both the gift that is offered and the receiver of the gift.  As gift bearers, we offer ourselves to our families, friends and anyone we encounter because they are a manifestation of God to us.  We too, are the receivers of the gifts of our families, friends and those we encounter because in the encounter with one another, God is made manifest.

  • How can we continue to be like the magi and continue to search for the presence of God made manifest in our part of the world?
  • What are our gifts that we bring and that we receive from those we encounter?

Now we move into a non-celebratory or a “normal” time. We need seasons of “down time,” so we can see what gift the celebratory time really is for us.  As the season will continue to unfold and we come around once more, we will hopefully notice more and be more transformed by the encounter and celebration.

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Yesterday, Today and Forever–Reflection for the New Year

The iconic image of the Hand of God giving lif...

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As we  begin the first week of the new year, the words from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews come to mind.  “Christ is the same yesterday,today and forever.” –Hebrews 13:8.

What are we hearing? What are we seeing? What or who do we look upon today? Who do we touch with our hands? And do we see the Word of life in our midst?

It was just a few days ago we celebrated the Feast of Christmas, a feast that celebrates the Word of life becoming flesh, becoming one of us.  What the people of Jesus’ time saw and heard might have been different than what we see and hear today, however, there is some commonality.

We come with a close memory of the life giving birth of the Savior child born in Bethlehem.  We also celebrate in the days after Christmas with the Holy Family, the Feast of martyrs, people who died giving their life to Christ and in our new life/new year we continue to proclaim the Word of life.  However, we encountered the stories of the birth of Jesus, the scriptures invite us to encounter Jesus through our own physical experience of the God made human.  Belden Lane in his book The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality says it best when:

“The interior truth here is that human beings don’t long for another world, far beyond the ordinariness of this one. We long for our own world, perceived in all its hidden grandeur. We sense it to be filled with a glory we could see if only we had the gifts of attentiveness and the proper rituals of entry.”  In another example, Gerard Manley Hopkins reminds us through his poem “God’s Grandeur” that “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

When we hear St. Paul’s proclamation, we hear of a God who calls us to proclaim the Word of Life—the Word made Flesh—to become Christ among all people, so that in what we do this day, in what we proclaim, in what we hear, see and touch truly becomes a time of proclamation of the Word of Christ, of Emmanuel, God with us—yesterday, today and forever. We must be attentive to our listening, seeing and touch.

  • Where are we continuing to proclaim the Word of life in all that we see, touch and hear this day?
  • How are we helping to proclaim this Word by what is made visible to us today in what we see, hear and touch?