Sunday, January 06, 2008

Feast of the Epiphany - homily

You might remember the Washington Post ad from a few years ago, “if you don’t get it, you don’t get it”. That slogan often makes me think about this feast of the Epiphany. The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah, and the wise men ‘get it’ about who Jesus is. There is another commercial out now which uses the word ‘epiphany’ but it’s about a mundane product, beer. Some guy has an epiphany about Heineken beer, like the light just goes on for him. We use the term in a sacred context today, referring to our Lord and the realization that the wise men have about him.

They get it about who Jesus is and they come to “do him homage”. It might appear that King Herod and all of Jerusalem get it, too, because they acknowledge a newborn king. But, they really don’t get it because they are “greatly troubled” by Jesus. From the start of his life, Jesus is a polarizing figure; this would continue throughout his life, through his death, through his resurrection, and even today. Either we get it about Christ (or are at least trying to get it about Him) or we don’t. Either we believe in Him and do him homage or we don’t believe in Him and reject Him or don’t care about Him.

The other day at the school Mass I asked our students if they have had an epiphany about who Jesus is. Many of them raised their hands, as you would expect. I then asked them how they’d come to have their epiphany and explained that the wise men had a star which led them to Jesus. The students said that their parents, teachers, priests, friends, etc. had led them to have their epiphany that Jesus is the Messiah.

Have we had our epiphany? Do we get it about Christ? Do we really get it about who He is – that He is our Messiah, that He saved us from our sins, that he died for us and redeemed us? This event changed the lives of the wise men; the key word about their epiphany was that they were “overjoyed” with this event. When we get it about Christ and do him homage, when we give our lives to Him, that’s when we find joy and happiness in living for Him. To believe in Christ and his teachings is a challenge; but if we really get it, we are not “greatly troubled” by Jesus.

Unfortunately, there are many people we know who don’t get it about Christ in general, and especially about the Eucharist. My guess is that half of the registered parishioners at St Andrew’s don’t come to Mass… at all. If they don’t get it, they don’t get it. As we come to the Eucharist to do him homage, let us go from here and live out our faith in Christ this week while praying for those who don’t get it and are greatly troubled by Jesus.


At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I was thinking about religion and why some “get it” and some don’t, and it occurred to me that God is really, REALLY smart! If you can’t tell, I am a little slow in “getting it!” God created the world with contrasts; i.e., heath vs. illness, young vs. old, wealthy vs. poor, “getting it” and “not getting it”, living from the “outside in”, where the focus is on the external image portrayed or from the “inside out”, where the focus is on the internal image portrayed, and the list goes on. Without contrasts, we would simply exist in a very monotonous lifestyle. What would we live and work for? If we all had the same amount of money, lived in the same environment and experienced “sameness” day in and out, wouldn’t living become really boring? Where would we pour our energy, creativity and thoughts?
Then I got to thinking, not only did he create the world with contrasts, he created us with the ability to choose, to think and select between available contrasts. God grants us life and then leaves it up to us to figure out. He knows us, but do we know Him?
Kathleen Norris writes in The Cloister Walk, with short or no notice, the world we live in can be turned upside down, revealing a world totally different from what we thought we knew. When our pretenses are removed, our fault lines are exposed and so is the allegiance to the discomfort we feel from shifted boundaries. Suddenly, all the things we value – control, productivity, money, autonomy - are swept away, revealing our response to this revelation. Whether we choose to run or stay still, become depressed or discern hope, look for love and grace in our new strange place - is a measure of our true condition. “It reveals us to ourselves” (214). Are we open to the Grace our Lord offers? The choice becomes one of looking in the mirror, being really honest, whether we like it or not, and staring our truths right in the face. I know for myself, the hard process of staring my truths - good and bad - right in the eye, revealing myself to myself with pure honesty, on a daily basis, has opened my heart to the beginnings of “getting it.”

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Either we believe in Him and do him homage or we don’t believe in Him and reject Him or don’t care about Him.”

It seems to me, at least for some (who I know), that less is about a basic sense of belief as much as a lack of willingness to heed His call. For those, it's almost like, "I believe in You, but not quite enough that I'll change my life for You." Some of those very people (who I know) would adamantly tell you that they believe He gave His life for them but are okay in being selfish in response. I understand that for some, God’s call may require performing uncommon acts of trust- like “getting out of a boat to walk on water.” For some, there may be fear involved, for God seems to ask us to do things that challenge us, even scare us. I mean, even Moses said- find someone else- I’m not who you really need. Maybe those who “get it” hear and understand the reassurance God also offers, “I will be with you.”


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