Today we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus to all the gentiles represented by the visit of the Magi, or Wise Men from the East. One scripture scholar suggests a new thought for us as we reflect on this passage. Rather than look for a miraculous star or a scientific explanation for the unexplainable light in the night sky that guided the visitors, consider the star as a messenger of God, an angel.
We readily accept the angel Gabriel announcing to Zechariah that he and Elizabeth will have a son, to name John. Gabriel announces to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus, the one sent to redeem humankind. Why not an angel who guides the visitors from the East to their destination? There are other scriptural references that equate stars with angels.
Maybe we need to reconsider our thinking because we know that God comes to us in many unexplained and surprising ways. How did you experience the presence of Christ through your family Christmas gatherings and even your observance of the New Year? What unexpected events led you to believe in a new way your experience of God’s love and care? What light did you experience in the past two weeks?
We continue to reflect on the meaning of the gifts the wise men presented to the Christ child, gold, frankincense and myrrh: gold for royalty, frankincense for worship and myrrh for burial. We do not bring Christ these kinds of gifts, but we do bring the gifts of our talents, the treasure of our experience, and the compassion of our hearts for so many people in need.
How often do we pause and thank God for the gifts God gives to us? Thank God for the breath we breathe to sustain our lives. Thank God for the gift of another day, family, friends, the beauty of nature, a roof over our heads, and so much more.
Having entered into this New Year we take time for reflection. Can we make this year a time to be more mindful of one another, mindful of our hunger and thirst for God, mindful of our need to spend time in prayer? I would ask each parishioner to consider giving to the Lord, the gift of time spent in prayer to hold up Saint Anthony parish in this coming year. To wrap this faith community in a prayerful embrace that we can grow in faith, grow in hope, grow in love and reach out to those who are seeking, looking and longing for God but don’t know where to turn. Wrap this faith community in the arms of ongoing prayer that the Lord may work in and through us to build up this community of faith, enliven it, and invite others to participate. Please consider inviting a neighbor or friend to join you at Mass next weekend! Please pray for the needs of Saint Anthony Parish and the needs of the universal church.