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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Epiphany! You Are Invited to the Feast of All Nations!

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai
The Epiphany of the Lord, Jan 8, 2017
Immaculate Heart Mary and Christ the King  Catholic Parishes, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.
"Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do Him homage." (The Magi inquired of King Herod, Matt 2:2)

One day a young man sought a holy monk in Egypt, who happened to be quite muscular and burly. The young man asked: "Oh, holy man, I want to know how to find God." 

The monk replied, "Do you really want to find God?" The young man answered: "Yes, I do." So the monk took the young man down to the river. Suddenly, the monk grabbed the young man by the neck and held his head under water. At first the young man thought the monk was giving him a special baptism. But  after one minute, the monk didn’t let go and the young man began struggling. Second by second, the young man fought harder and harder. After three minutes, the monk pulled the young man out of the water and said: "When you desire God as much as you desired air, you will have the Epiphany of God"

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany -- a Greek word meaning "appearance or manifestation." We celebrate today the manifestation of Our Lord to the

whole world. After He was made known to the shepherds keeping watch outside Bethlehem, he is now revealed to the Magi, who have come from the East to adore Him. 

Epiphany is the Feast of all Nations because on this day we celebrate the manifestation of
Christ, the true Light of all nations, calling us
to become more and more filled with His Light, to clothe our  communities with the universality of this Light and to labour to bring the Light to those living in darkness.

In age of electricity and artificial lights, it is difficult for us to appreciate the symbolism of light; but the truth is that Christ as Light is the fullest expression of God's work in the world.

Therefore "Arise, shine!" cries out Isaiah, "for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you." We Gentiles thank God that
today we are being invited to God's Kingdom, his Church, which is our means to reach heaven. 

Unlike the people of the Old Testament, let us not forget how God is so good to us. Let us not provoke Him, so we end up in exile as slaves to pagans. Whatever challenges you and I may go through in life let them not cause us to be unfaithful to God. We do not want to be excluded from our true home -- where "the glory of the Lord will shine" forever.

The Epiphany is a festival of light, for on this

day we celebrate the manifestation of Jesus Christ in the darkness of the world calling all humankind to come and bathe in His Light. 

At the birth of Jesus, three wise men from the East, guided by a star came to worship him. It is a custom to picture them as black, white and brown; thus they represent all the people of the earth, particularly the Gentiles. Hence, "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus." (Eph 3:6)

This makes us to rejoice for we appreciate the gift of true faith. This gift means that we know where we came from, we know where we are going and we are certain that that is a wonderful eternal place.  Holding onto our faith and following the right path, we also know the Way there. We may have to climb some hills that look as steep as Calvary, but after Calvary comes the Mount of the Ascension. Yes Epiphany is the feast of all Nations.
The Magi are the central personages in today's feast. They were pagans who did not know the true God of the Jews. Yet  God revealed to them that the promised King of the Israel had come.

They came to Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, expecting to find the whole country rejoicing. Instead they found suspicion and hatred in the reigning king -- a hatred which in a few days turned to murder. 

Among the religious leaders they found knowledge of their past history. These leaders knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. They recognised that the Magi were very sure  the foretold Messiah had come.  In spite of all that, the thought of going to Bethlehem with the Magi never occurred to them. We too know the true facts concerning Christ, His mission and His present and future kingdom. Like the leaders of the Jews of his day, we also can become absorbed in the affairs of the world -- the quest for wealth, pleasure and power. We can become so totally absorbed in worldly affairs that we have no time to welcome Christ into our homes and hearts as Our True Lord.

We are baptised so we have the entire Light of Christ, but too often we think that is enough. The strange thing about Jesus is that

you can never get away from Him, but also you can never get enough of Him. 

Jesus Christ is  everything man needs. Therefore until God meets all our deepest needs, our quest for more and more of Jesus must go on. Meet Jesus daily. We need not look towards the stars to encounter Him. He is being born every day in our lives. He comes anew to us in every suffering we face, in every hand stretched out to us for help.

The Lord comes to us in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. He comes in the community of believers -- the universality of Christ. Hence it has to be a community that welcomes all peoples and races, that provides equality for all, especially the "little ones."

The more we Christians receive the Light of Christ,
 the more we want to give it to others.
People may appear to be seeking fame, fortune, exitement, but what they actually want is human fulfilment. Their search is for what is supreme and beautiful -- Jesus Christ. 

So we Christians have a  a lot of work to do. After Christmas there are already signs on the streets that work has resumed, sales have started, and schools have re-opened. The "back to work" motif is noticeable. 

Today's feast also calls us to bring Christ to all nations. "When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with the flock, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to build the nations and to make music in the heart." (Anonymous)  God bless you all.

Today's Readings:  Is 60:1-6, Eph 3: 2-3, 5-6, Matt 2: 1-12

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