Homily – January 8, 2017

You might say that this feast with it powerful symbolism of the star rising in the East, these searchers for the truth making their long and perilous journey following the star, ending their journey as they find Mary and Joseph and the child in the stable in Bethlehem, is the feast that proves that Jesus Christ is Catholic, not a Roman Catholic but in fact the perfect Catholic.

The word Catholic means universal and today’s feast teaches the truth that Jesus was born, lived and died on the cross for all peoples of any nationality and of any faith. Non-Christians may not know and accept Jesus as we do but Jesus knows and accepts them totally.

Jesus taught us that Salvation is from the Jews. Our Christian faith did not come out of nowhere. We have roots, deep roots in Judaism. In Jesus that salvation was extended to us as Paul tells us in our second reading, ‘The Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body and sharers in the promises in Christ Jesus. Peter expressed this truth when he witnessed the conversion of Cornelius and his whole family,’ I truly understand that God shows no partiality but any one of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God.

A few years ago I received a very interesting Christmas card

from a friend in Ireland. She`d been in Derry on Bloody Sunday on January the 30th in 1972 when many unarmed men and women were gunned down in the streets of Derry. Because of this experience she was heavily involved in the Irish Peace Movement. The Christmas card showed the Wise Men seeing the Star resting over Bethlehem but their long journey was stopped by the Israeli security wall that blocked their entrance to the town. A barrier to the birthplace of the Prince of Peace.

Walls seem to be very much on some people`s minds these days. Pope Francis reminded us that Christians are meant to build bridges not walls.

This great feast of the Epiphany teaches the truth that Jesus the Christ came for all peoples of all times. Did we ever stop and think that, by the way we relate to other people we may be building walls instead of bridges. These walls hinder, not just non-Catholics but even Catholic family members and friends who are ‘turned off’ by our attitudes of bigotry and discrimination that we harbour toward peoples of other faiths, other nationalities, cultures and life styles, that we bring to church with us every Sunday? Do we hear the harsh and dismissive things we say about other people who do not share our faith and values? Do we appreciate the fact walls can be built with words as well as with bricks and mortar.

Can we be Christian men and women who help others to follow the Star that brings them to the truth of Bethlehem as we live this Mass outside these walls?

Jesus challenged us to so let our lights, our living of our faith in him, so shine before those who do not know him, that seeing our good works and come to know him better. Can we see ourselves as stars guiding good people to come to know Jesus in a better way, luring them over the bridge that leads them to him? Remember Jesus is Catholic; he came for all peoples in all times.