Pastor's reflection for weekend of Jan. 6/7 - (Feast of the Epiphany)
About 3-4 years ago I saw a YouTube video which portrayed the feast of the Epiphany in modern day culture. I tried to find it again but was unsuccessful. The video was well done and basically had Mary & Joseph meeting on line; then Mary emails Joseph and tells him she is pregnant and they need to talk – the three kings follow their GPS to find Jesus and of course their gifts are bought on line and have the three wise men ‘adding to the cart!’
While it is commonly acknowledged by scholars that the story of the Epiphany never actually happened, one of the points is that the three travelers show us the need to search for Jesus in our lives while realizing God is often calling us to other directions as he did to the three kings when they received word to go back a different route.
So many things we learn on the journey of life. Sometimes I wish I could ask God why don’t you just tell us things. Why do we have to learn that while we thought we knew it all when we were younger we realize that growing older often tells we knew very little. Or why do we often have to find out the hard way that if we want happiness in our lives life is not about getting but about giving.
It seems as if it is on the journey of life we meet God and come to know Him – and often in varied and different ways than we ever thought. There is no GPS to find God in our lives.
For the heck of it I used my GPS and put in 'heaven.' Here’s what came up: ‘Heavenly Angels Grave Care, Heavenly Hill Farm, Hubcap Heaven and wheels, heavenly hardwood floors and hot dog heaven.’ Oh yeah – one more – get this! ‘oink’s pork chop heaven!’
There just isn’t a GPS route to find God.
St. John of the Cross in the 16th century said this: ‘The language of God is in our daily lives.' It is in the daily journey that we discover God in our lives. Our relationships, good or bad, our desires, our failings – whatever! It is in these aspects of our lives that we can hear the voice of God – and often in a direction we never intended.
I would offer the following on our journey and to ponder as we celebrate this feast of the Epiphany.
(1) Realize how special we are to God. As a priest I experience things that others who are not priests will never. The joy of celebrating God’s forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation is just one. However, you experience things I will never. I will never have the experience of a parent holding their infant child like many of you who are parents have. And the gaze you give your infant and the first time your eyes connect. The child knows instantly he is special, loved and accepted.
When we can see how special God’s love, forgiveness, mercy and healing are to us we can let go to God. When we realize we are a special child of God – no matter where we are or what we’ve done – it is easier to accept the different directions God calls us to.
(2) Don’t be afraid to reflect on what you might be holding on to which hinders you from following the different direction God might be calling you to. There are some things that just cannot be fixed or changed, some things we might still be harboring or whatever. God could be calling us to a different direction.
(3) Finally, pray for the gift of faith. We all know personally or have read or heard of many things people who have endured suffering as a prisoner of war or trials and tribulations; many have had challenging lives to lead. And yet their faith led them to trust God even if it meant a different direction in life.
We can see this feast as the close of the Christmas season or a feast day that challenges us to see that in whatever direction our God is leading us He never ever abandons us. No matter who we are or what has occurred in our lives God is speaking to us through the language of our daily lives.