Monday, January 3, 2011


This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany. When we celebrate a feast year in and year out two things become very important. The first is to instill in our children the story. I hope that as we have all celebrated this Christmas season we have all opened our bibles at home and read to our children the story of the visit of the Magi, along with the rest of the Christmas story. Just in case you haven’t had a chance yet, the story of the birth of Christ is found in the Gospels according to Sts. Matthew and Luke. The story of the Magi is found in Matthew.
I recall being quite scandalized, some years ago, when a group of children I was teaching didn’t know the real story of Christmas at all – apart from Jesus was born and Mary is his mother. If the soil of our children’s hearts, minds and souls is to be prepared for belief the story must be known at least as well as the storyline of their favorite movie. So, please, if you haven’t already done so, sit down as a family and share this wonderful story of God’s love and favor.
The second important thing that we do when we celebrate this feast is become a part of the story. That is the difference between celebrating something that happened 2,000 years ago and something that is continuing to happen in our midst as a continuing act of God’s love and favor. We become part of the story when we recognize and act, that is, participate in the essence of the story. So how do we participate in this story? Well, that is going to depend on where we are in life and who we are. Some things are going to be different for each person, others are going to be common to all of us.
We start, as small children, by coming to know the story well and making the story a part of our lives by keeping it in our hearts. This must be the beginning, of course. How else can we reflect on it and begin to mine its riches? So, please, make sure that first part happens with your children, grandchildren, even yourself.
As we get a little older we begin to make very practical moves towards participating in the story. It may be little “gifts” we bring to baby Jesus such as a renenewed commitment to praying every morning and night. It may be a promise to be more kindly towards family members. We just call to mind the song of the Little Drummer Boy, maybe even listen to or sing it as a family. In this we learn that our gifts to our new-born king need not be big, flashy and expensive. We give what we have. The greatest gift is the gift of ourselves.
As we get older still, we begin to have the capacity to see that we serve Christ in our brothers and sisters. We are most fortunate in our parishes to have this opportunity through our “Giving Tree” (St. Boniface) and our “Baby Shower” (Holy Family). In these we recognize the “baby in the stable” among us and seek to serve our new-born Lord in them. I am quite proud as a pastor that these efforts just seem to grow and grow. It is a good sign that the love of God is indeed to be found in our hearts. Of course, the love of God extends to the unwanted as well. And so, when it comes to welcoming and preserving the lives of all children, especially the most vulnerable among us will we be like Mary & Joseph and welcome the children God chooses to send us? Or will we be like Herod and see that child as a threat to our position, something to be destroyed at all costs? Will we be like Herod’s soldiers and become complicit in this crime against God and His love? Or will we be like the Magi and do even the little we can to protect that life? Our choice is our answer to God’s invitation to be a part of the story – a part of His eternal family.

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