Homily – January 5, 2014

Be Open to Your Epiphanies

Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. We use this word epiphany to describe a moment when we have a sudden insight, a moment of enlightenment that gives us a deeper appreciation of something that was very ordinary in our lives. A husband or wife might come to a deeper appreciation of what they mean to one another because of the way he or she handles a crisis in their lives or how he or she was there for the other when test results let them know there will rough times ahead. Parents have an epiphany when they suddenly see how hard it is for a son or daughter to cope with the frustration of not being able to find work no matter what degrees they have, no matter how many years they’ve spent in school or when they appreciate in a deeper way the courage and determination of a son or daughter struggling with their addictions. A person may have an epiphany when realise how much comfort and strength they receive from attendance at Mass or following their favorite devotions.

People often have an epiphany when they are caught up in the beauty of a sun rise or the delicate beauty of an ordinary flower or watch in amazement as a spider spins its web. These and many more events that intrude into our ordinary lives give us a glimpse at the deeper wonder of all creation or the wonder of the goodness of those who are part and parcel of our daily lives are epiphanies – moments of wonder and awe. They may be surprises or they may come to us after years of prayer and searching.

Today’s gospel teaches us of the epiphany of the early church when it took to its heart the words of St. Peter after his encounter with the Roman Centurion, Cornelius – the truth I have come to understand is this, that any person of any nationality who does what is right is acceptable to God’

Peter and Paul both shared this epiphany that God’s love and the saving power of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection are open to people of all times who seek to do what is right according to their own lights. Peter and Paul confronted and opposed Jewish Christians who demanded the any Gentile who became a follower of Jesus must observe the laws and customs of Judaism.

So we have this beautiful gospel of wise men, non-Jews, coming from far away, searching for the truth, a truth they find in an infant lying in a manger. We hear they went home by a way they did not come, their lives transformed by the wonder they had experienced.

I believe we are experiencing a new epiphany in our time – if we are open to it. This epiphany is in the words and actions of Pope Francis. He stands before us all with open and welcoming arms. Not for him the pointing finger of condemnation and scolding. He welcomes all to come together – those of our faith, those with faiths different from our own, those with no faith at all to work together to undo the grave social and economic injustices of our time. Pope Francis call us of faith, calls those of different faith, calls those of no faith to work together to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give a roof to the homeless, provide clean drinking water to those who have no such luxury, give a homeland to the migrants, give hope to the hopeless of our own neighbourhood, our own country.

Listen to what Francis said at St. Peter’s on New Year’s Day;

We are all children of one heavenly father, we belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny,” “This brings a responsibility for each to work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other in one’s diversity, and takes care of one another,”

The Holy Father invites us into this Epiphany – seeing in a deeper way, a more challenging way the truth that we are brothers and sisters to one another and we are our sisters and brothers keeper. May we be graced to hear and live these words of Jesus – love one another as I have loved you – as often as you do these things to others you do them to me.