Today, January 6th, on this first Sunday in 2019, of this New Year, 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. A recent scripture scholar suggests a new thought for us as we reflect on this passage. Rather than look for a miraculous star or 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 they 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. Thinking of surprising ways, how did you experience the presence of Christ in your family Christmas gatherings and even your observance of the New Year? What unexpected events led you to believe anew in your experience of God’s love and care? What new 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 specific 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. We, you and I, can bring so much to Christ.
How often do you pause and thank God for the gifts God gives to you? Thank God for the breath you take every single moment. Thank God for the gift of another day, family, friends, the beauty of nature, a roof over your heads, and so much more.
Entering into this New Year you may take time for promises and resolutions. Can you make this year a time to be more mindful of one another, mindful of your hunger and thirst for God, mindful of your 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 so that we can all 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. To wrap this faith community in the arms of ongoing prayer that the Lord may work in and through us, through you and I to build up this community of faith, enliven it, and invite others to participate. Wouldn’t that be a Year to remember! Please pray for the needs of Saint Anthony Parish and the future of the universal church.
New Year Blessings, Father Larry