Saturday, January 11, 2014


As I type this post I’m listening to a CD of Christmas carols, realizing that tomorrow’s feAst of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Church’s Christmas/Epiphany season.

On the Monday before Christmas we monks had a Christmas tree decorating party, and decorated the refectory and the church and a couple of other rooms. This coming Monday we will have a Christmas tree “undecorating party,” at which, as you can figure out, we take down the decorations and put them away until next time. The “undecorating party” is a great opportunity to ask ourselves one more time the question “So what?” Christmas, the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan -- what difference do these various feasts mean in the way we live our daily lives?

 Actually all of the feasts in this season have the same theme: God has become one of us and is now revealed in the flesh. First to the shepherds at the stable in Bethlehem, then to the pagan wise men, and then at the Jordan when the divine voice from heaven claims “This is my beloved son!” As we know, the word “epiphany” is a Greek word meaning “showing forth, manifestation,” and this word holds the key to at least one answer to the “so what?” question.

The readings at mass in the past week have spelled the practical consequences for us by citing the first Letter of John. Here’s my translation of one passage that was used this past Wednesday: “If God has loved us so much, then we must have the same love for one another… If we love one another then God dwells in us, and his love is brought to completion in us” (1 John 4:11). Suddenly the emphasis has shifted from God’s saving actions to my own, from God’s loving me to my loving others. I have the same task that Jesus had in the world: To show forth God’s love to the world by my actions. If Jesus is the manifestation of God’s love in the flesh, John tells me, then how can I dare to be anything less than that myself? I love that curious phrase, “God’s love is brought to completion” in us. It’s as if God needs you and me to complete the divine task of saving the world through love.

Saint Augustine says somewhere that we Christians are “Easter people,” each of us is an alleluia from head
to toe. Well, at this time of year the Church is telling us that we Christians are also “Epiphany people,” whose task is to show forth God’s boundless love to humankind. At the Jordan Jesus discovered both his identity as God’s Son and his mission of giving himself in order to save his people. With him, we have discovered both our identity as children of God and our mission of giving ourselves in love to others to “bring God’s love to completion.”

 So, as we put away the boxes of Christmas decorations let us remember that we’re not putting away our identity or our mission to be “epiphany people.” That task is just beginning.

1 comment:

  1. J e s u S(miling). Father, I am remembering the finches and the ear canal story and that I was reading the finches and Fuegian story. Father, could you please include the Panama Canal Expansion in your prayers? I am also thinking of Romans 1:21. Thank you. CMJE