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The Epiphany of the Lord
a. A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
b. A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization
Now more than ever there seems to be a greater search for meaning in the world in which we live. The search itself can come in various forms and the depths in which these increased hordes of truth seekers carry out their pursuit is as vast and refined as an intricately cobbled mosaic.
Faith levels can of course vacillate, even among the most devout, but finding God tends to be a phenomenon that occurs along the faith journey, not necessarily at a preconceived destination. We live in a world of accomplishments, milestones, win/loss records and other assorted metrics (who's "trending" on Twitter as I type this?), yet the nurturing and development of one's faith doesn't abide by measurables. God reveals Himself continually and in many different forms. Those who eventually learn to "live beyond their fingertips" know that. This is what God encourages all of us to do and it is one of the defining elements of the Epiphany of the Lord, a true cornerstone celebration in the Liturgical Year. Many traditional Catholics do not take down their Christmas Trees until the day after the Epiphany (January 7th) in accordance with the true spirit and celebration of the 12 days of Christmas, further underlying the significance of this day.
The Epiphany of the Lord essentially refers to the manifestation of God's presence in our human world, foreshadowing the kingdom of heaven in the process. The Magi were of course the quintessential seekers, making that all-important journey to a distant land in an effort to cast their eyes on that which in our current world cannot be seen in the truest, literal sense of the word. Those who grapple with the notion of faith oftentimes struggle with this very concept; God's presence in the world must be sought out even though it certainly isn't hiding.
Those who favor the Midnight Christmas Eve Mass may have recognized the First Reading of the Epiphany (Isaiah 60:1-6) as this reading is in fact traditionally read at the Midnight Celebration. In it Isaiah addresses those who are riding out the the Babylonian exile. They are tired, beleaguered, disillusioned and frustrated. Isaiah proclaims that their light has indeed come despite the darkness and thick ominous clouds that cover them, and with glorious images of the sea being emptied out before them, the wealth of nations being brought to them not to mention caravans of camels at the ready, the prevailing question had to have been "what took you so long?"
Throngs of people turning to the soothing comfort of God's words at the moment of their darkest hour. Sound familiar?
In the Second Reading we encounter Paul, considered by many to be the greatest Missionary of them all, and in his message he practically alludes to that very fact as he goes on to say "You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
The upshot: Gentiles are also called to be members in the body of Christ alongside their Jewish brothers and sisters. Theoretically speaking, one could look at this Letter to the Ephesians as the first attempt at interfaith dialog in the history of man.
Fast forward to the year 2013. Have we made meaningful progress in that admittedly complex initiative?
As we embark on the early stages of the Year in Faith, what a great opportunity to re-visit Vatican II's Constitution on Divine Revelation, on the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II no less. This Doctrine is for all intents and purposes the blueprint in understanding how God speaks to us. It's where mere faith takes the giant leap to discipleship through what I like to call a "communication covenant".
.........Wise Men Still Seek Him.
Come back next week. We have an important Baptism to celebrate.