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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Christ's Authority: Even Impure Spirits Obey Him

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan. 28, 2018
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching--and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him." (Mark 1:27)

In today’s Gospel (Mark 1:21-28) Our Lord Jesus is right in the heart of his ministry on earth. He goes to Capernaum on
a Sabbath and heals a man who is possessed by an unclean spirit. The demons are afraid of the power of Our Lord as the unclean spirit cries out,
"What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!" Jesus drives the demon out of the man, and the people are amazed!

My brothers and sisters, as we reflect on today’s Gospel passage, let us have confidence in Our Lord Jesus Christ. He has all power and authority, and He is coming again soon to establish His kingdom on earth. Until then, we need to stay close to the faith which we have received because we are in a spiritual battle.

As Catholics, we have been given many tools to stay strong in our faith so that we can face the demons in our own lives with confidence. One way for us to be strengthened in our faith is through prayer. In fact, when Jesus drives
out the unclean spirit, He says only one word,
“Quiet!” It is this same word, “Quiet,” that our Lord says when He calms the storm at sea later in the Gospel of Mark 4:35-41. Our Lord is asleep in the boat and the disciples are terrified because of the wind and rain. But He wakes up and says, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind  ceases and there is a great calm.

When we are being battered by discouragement, we need to pray. We need to take quiet time with our Lord. In fact, we should not simply pray when we feel
we are being attacked, 
but we need to pray unceasingly because prayer keeps us on the right path. 

Even if we don’t feel we get anything out of prayer, we do. What is most important for prayer is a humble and contrite heart. Our Lord teaches us that we don’t need to say a lot of words. Our Father knows what we need. Our Lord simply wants our heart. He wants us to place ourselves in His care in faith.

In fact, many years ago before I was Catholic I had gone through my own personal
Fr. John Paul Shea
struggles. During this time I simply and sincerely began to pray, “God help me to know what to do with my life.” That’s all I prayed, pretty much, and God did the rest. At that time when I prayed those words I would have never imagined that I would be standing here as a priest today!

One of the most important prayers we have as Catholics to protect us is the Holy Rosary, which has great power against evil. For example, Our Blessed Mother gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic in the 1200s. He had been preaching against a group of heretics known as the Albigensians who were wreaking havoc on the Church. Legend
teaches us that Dominic was having no success in preaching against the heresy until Our Lady  appeared to him and told him to pray the  Rosary and to tell others to do so. After Dominic obeyed and preached the Holy Rosary, he was able to defeat the heresy.

Our Blessed Mother has been stressing the need to pray the Rosary in more recent times because satan and his fallen angels are very active in the modern era -- with the permission of men.  At Fatima, Our Blessed Mother encouraged the children to pray the Rosary every day for peace.

Pope Saint Leo XIII gave us the the Prayer to Saint Michael after he apparently had a vision of God and satan conversing. 
He was warned that there would be an increase in spiritual warfare over the coming 100 years -- the 20th century.

The devil is real and he is influencing many people in our world today. Do not be afraid. We have a Saviour,  Our Lord Jesus Christ! He has all authority over unclean spirits. In these evil times, let us have complete confidence in the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

In the Catholic Church,  we have the holy Sacraments, which are instruments of God’s grace. The devil trembles at the Holy Sacrament of confession! Let us use it often in humility because humility always chases the devil away. We Catholics can use
Even the pope goes to confession! 
sacramentals such as holy water, crucifixes, and statues. Make your home a place where holy angels come to dwell to guard and protect. Place crucifixes over your beds. Keep holy water on hand. Ask a priest to bless your home.  

As we come to receive Our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this morning, have confidence in Him. Give your lives over to Him. Ask for His protection.  For He is the Holy One of God! 

May the blessings and protection of Our Lord Jesus be upon us this day and always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Nuclear Alert! Welcome to Nineveh.

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan. 21, 2018
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

This story came out of Hawaii last week. It started out as a normal Saturday for most Hawaiians, including Dallas and 
Monica Carter and their five children. 

Monica was getting breakfast ready for the kids before a busy day when the warning blared across smartphone screens throughout the island: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. It was the same kind of warnings Hawaiians are used to receiving for tsunamis and hurricanes -- the kind of warning they’re used to heeding. 

“That was quite terrifying, of course,” said Dallas Carter, a theology lecturer for the Diocese of Honolulu.

Dallas said he had three thoughts once he had processed the alert. The first was: “Oh, I haven’t gone to confession yet!”  Number two was, “Ok, how do I do this perfect contrition thing?” Number three was “We have to get the kids praying Rosary.”

Soon after the initial warning, Dallas ran to the neighbors to see if they had gotten the same alert, and checked on some elderly neighbors while formulating a possible plan to get his family to the shelter of his concrete classroom. When he ran back inside the house, he found that his wife had placed the
Our Lady of Guadalupe
family's Our Lady of Guadalupe statue in the middle of the breakfast table, and all of the kids were praying the Rosary. Dallas’ wife had not long ago read a story about Jesuits in Hiroshima who were spared during the atomic blast because of their consecration to Jesus through Mary.  “My wife did the more important thing. She prayed,” Dallas said.

The eldest of the Carter children, was waken by her nine-year-old brother. “I remember thinking what’s going on? I literally just wanted to pray. I concentrated so hard on the Rosary, I was like ‘Come on Mary I know you can do this,’” she said. Desperate for news, Dallas ran to his truck to turn on the radio. Instead of hearing static, or more warnings,

he heard a football game and talk radio -- nothing out of the ordinary. The family started to breathe a little easier, but they waited along with the rest of the island - for 30 minutes before they got the official all-clear. They later learned the false warning was an error on the part of an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

In today’s first reading (Jonah 3:1-5,10), the prophet Jonah was sent by God to proclaim the message of repentance to the Ninevites. This message was urgent. God said to Jonah,
"Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So, Jonah begins his journey announcing the words of the Lord that "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” The Ninevites respond to the message of God given through Jonah. They proclaim a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. We hear that God saw their sincere repentance and so He does not carry out the chastisement upon the city. 

In light of what happened to the state of Hawaii last Saturday, we ask ourselves are we prepared for whatever may come. Have we been to confession lately? Are we praying 
regularly? Are are hearts in the right state if we are unable to go to confession?

The truth is that Our Lord Jesus has come into our world and called us to conversion. But many souls are in jeopardy of losing eternal life. When Jesus walked the earth he denounced those who did not believe. He said this is
“an evil and unfaithful generation.” Our Lord said to the Jewish people that at the final judgement the men of Nineveh will arise  and condemn that generation because the men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah but the Jews would not repent at Christ's words. And the Person they had before them, Jesus, is much greater than Jonah (Matthew 12:41).

If Jesus condemned the unbelievers of His generation, what will He say about ours?

The truth is that when societies turn away from God they bring judgment upon all of us. Jesus said there will be wars and upheavals while this current world is ending. Our Lord came to prepare us for the new heaven and the new earth.
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel." This is the time to prepare.
In fact, I’m sure we would all like it if God would send out a universal text message to everyone 30 minutes before the end of the world. After all, wasn't the prophet Jonah sending out an ancient text message? Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed!

Actually, Our Lord and the Blessed Mother have been sending out warnings and signs.  The problem is that we have been ignoring them. That's why the people of Nineveh were so unique. They did not ignore the prophecy. They responded with sackcloth, fasting, and ashes.

My brothers and sisters, God does not want
Fr John Paul Shea
us to wait until the next crisis to repent. He wants us to be prepared now. Saint Paul tells us in today’s second reading (1 Cor 7:29-31) that
“from now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.” May we therefore commit our hearts to what is truly necessary to our salvation. May Our Lord Jesus protect us from all harm and guide us into eternal life. Amen.

Our Lady of the Rosary 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Forgotten Fathers: Waiting Room Men in an Abortion Clinic

No One Speaks About the Unspeakable Injustice that One Word, “Choice,” Inflicts on the “Choiceless” — the Fathers of Children Killed in Abortion

“The baby does not know it is trapped in a life and death struggle of motherhood and waiting on Jonah, who is busy running away from fatherhood and now, finding himself trapped in the belly of a Whale, is praying for a second chance that might not come again. We ask ourselves, ‘will the baby push out naturally and so be allowed to live through a mother’s grace to enjoy a proper birthday?’ Or will it be abandoned by its parents to die and be surgically removed from its mother by strangers with forceps; given its own death-day written up as a statistic without a name only to be remembered each year by two forlorn and guilty parents?”  (Father X in Troubadours Sailing Hibiscus Seas: Meditations on Post Abortion Trauma)

by Susan Fox  

Two forlorn and guilty parents?

I thought abortion was about a woman’s choice.

It has nothing to do with men, does it?
Father X, a British father of an aborted baby, and Judith Gait, an American  pro-life artist living in England, rip that idea to shreds in Troubadours Sailing Hibiscus Seas: Meditations on Post Abortion Trauma.   It is a literary, artistic work charting the emotional journey of a father, whose girlfriend decided to have an abortion even though he pleaded for the child's life. Hibiscus flower tea is an abortifacient, but the father in this scenario is writing a love song to his dead child. He is the troubadour. 

The troubadour’s anguish and regret bleeds through the pages, demonstrating that our society has plunged into the utter depths of barbarism, especially in our attitude to human fathers. Most cave men — faithful to their wives —  enjoyed raising their own children. 

Modern men must cope with “choice,” something they are completely denied in an abortion, leaving them emasculated with a loss of masculine identity. They are not allowed to act on their healthy instinct to protect their family, according to Men and Abortion: Psychological Effects by Catherine T. Coyle, RN, PhD.    

Their angst is based on reality. In the United States, the husband has no legal right to be notified — let alone stop — his wife from obtaining an abortion. Our so-called “Supreme” Court decided that. 

Being men, they may not talk about it. But Dr. Coyle and other researchers find they are just as likely as women to suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome — with symptoms that may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Males may be at greater risk for depression than females post abortion. Researcher Brenda Majors and colleagues at  State University of New York at Buffalo, studying couples prior to an abortion, found males were more likely than females to blame the pregnancy on their own character. Self-character blame has been associated with increased risk for depression.

Some attempt to abort their own lives, committing suicide and some suffer impotence post-abortion. Even if they want the abortion, their child’s sudden death can haunt them their entire lives, wrecking future relationships and marriages. Father X remains an older bachelor caring for his mother. For him, his dream of  having a family died with his child. The vast majority of men in these studies say they have been left with lingering and disturbing thoughts. In one study reported by Dr. Coyle, 82 percent of men said they suffered from depression afterwards.

The studies on men are not nearly as systematic or thorough as the ones on women post abortion, but the results are almost identical. Abortion and Women’s Health — conducted by medical researcher Dr. Gregory Pike — is an evidence based review of the impact of abortion on women released in 2017.

It found that after an abortion 
  1. Women suffer a 30 percent increased risk of depression. 
  2. They are more likely to die from any cause vs. childbirth.
  3. Abortion is associated with higher death rates for women up to 10 years after. 
  4. Women experienced mental health disorders 30 percent more often than women who did not have an abortion, 
  5. In subsequent pregnancies, women are likely to suffer depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  6. Women have a higher risk of psychiatric admission compared to women who keep their babies, 
  7. Women are at risk of hospital admission, blood transfusion, emergency room treatment, administration of IV antibiotics and infection.  

With women facing all that in an abortion, who can question that the men quietly sitting in the waiting room are suffering as well?

“Meanwhile in a parent’s mind certain things can trigger the phenomenon of what is known as abortion aftershock,” Father X said, “setting off alarm bells in the heart, much like cue cravings do for an addict. The sight of a family out for a stroll, pushing a pram on a sunny afternoon can do it, so can seeing a pregnant woman in full bloom or a look of joy on a child’s face. Any one of a hundred other common sights can set off the Abortion Remorse Orchestra going off in the heart. The musicians always play the same tune, the death knell…”

Judith’s artwork, which relies on ordinary household items to portray an uneasy reality, accompanies Father X in his memories of the event, which occurred on Nov 8, 2011.
The Anniversary Bouquet by Judith Gait 
One of my favourite pictures is the Anniversary Bouquet, showing the anniversary of the death of Father X’s child. A child’s pyjamas are pinned to a wall while the dark shadow of a flower covers it. The picture distressingly expresses the feeling that something is starkly missing. Someone is not there who should be on the anniversary celebrated in his or her honour.

“St Augustine tells us that prayer is like silent shouting,” Gait said. “Sometimes the same could be said about drawing. If it is to be any use, it needs to be as intense as the shout which has its origin deep within our soul.” Her paintings silently shout about the emptiness men and women feel after an abortion.

The love affair had hardly begun when the baby was conceived on a weekend getaway in  the English Lake District. Father X called it a “area of outstanding natural beauty and one of the most picturesque areas in England.” It wasn’t planned. His girlfriend used birth control. Ironically, they visited the home of the famed children’s author, Beatrix Potter. “Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and 
their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter,” 
begins the British tale of a disobedient little rabbit, who
Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail & Peter
sneaks into Mr McGregor’s garden. This is a place — his widowed mother warns — where Peter’s father had a distressing accident. Perhaps the shadow of that event followed Father X out of the Lake District. But his “future bride” failed to heed the message.

Four weeks later, the lady he loved was pregnant. At first she was delighted and willing to let nature take its course. Father X, who had been thinking of marriage, promised to support her and the child, but because of “fear and insecurity on her part, the expected congratulations .. suddenly turned into commiserations of sadness and mistaken folly,” he wrote.

“It was her wedding white dress, my sea green empress, this blue lagoon princess, she slipped into her own heart of darkness on that day she decided to abort,” Fr. X said. Judith shows these emotions with an image of a dark blue vase containing an upside down flower. It is the only flower in focus and in its natural colour. Everything else is black. “It represents the child who is already in the birth position, head down and waiting to be born,” Father X wrote. 

Speaking to future parents, Father X writes, “So long as you
Already in the birth position
Blue Vase by Judith Gait
waver like Jonah in the face of responsibility and lack both the fortitude and faith of a mother and father to do what is right for their child, you will be offered an abortion by a well meaning doctor from the NHS (British Health Service) He referred to the fact that the Prophet Jonah initially refused God’s call to preach to the Ninevites. He was swallowed  by a whale, and then spit out on the shore near Nineveh after three day’s, now ready to complete his mission.

Just days before the abortion, she came to stay with Father X. “She was scared and was in that twilight world of wavering and indecision. She admitted she felt growing warmth towards the baby. I also felt paternal instinct in me for the first time in my life: it felt very different from anything else I had felt. I put my hand on her tummy and we both felt very close for a moment…I might add she also looked very beautiful and radiant…motherhood suited her. But the devil had gotten into her with fear of financial insecurity and just plain self will.” 

“I spoke to her on the morning of the abortion,” Father X continues his family’s story, “and found myself pleading for the baby’s life. All gone now was the political correctness of it being her choice, her body, her life, it was all raw emotion and a father’s natural instinct of wanting to protect his child.”

The hammer of decision by Judith Gait
But she had grabbed Thor’s hammer. In Judith’s paintings the hammer is the image for the abortion decision. It is Thor’s hammer in a death grip and the hammer of St. Joseph when one rejects the abortion, and builds a life for one’s family. On the way into the abortion clinic she was distressed to meet 
pro-life demonstrators. Then she was left alone in the abortion clinic for one hour before the procedure, and she began to panic and called Father X. “I told her to get up and leave.” But she did not.

“What will the condemned baby experience before the hammer blow of abortion happens?” Father X asks. “It will witness an unknown foe dressed in a doctor’s smock and a surgical mask. The child will only feel that last stab of pain…It is done, the boulder of innocence has been scraped. The empty womb. The bird has flown. Lark ascending.”

Three lives ruined. Both parents were in their 40s.

“For the next several months that we stayed together it wasn’t mentioned, not by me and not by her. Nevertheless it was like an elephant in the sitting room the whole time,” Father X said. 

Judith’s Painting, “Breakfast for One,” reflects the life of Father X now. “I sit alone each morning at breakfast and bury my loneliness in the morning ritual of coffee, cereal, tea and toast. Now when we occasionally do meet, we pass each
other in the street like strangers with barely an uncomfortable second glance. Both of us hurrying by and trying to get away from the guilty secret we now hold together.” 

Sociologist Arthur Shostak (Abortion & Men: Lessons, Losses & Lovedescribes male abortion pain as the loss of fatherhood and a “wound you cannot see or feel, but it exists.” The man gets an incredible message. There is real evidence of his virility. His partner is pregnant and he is going to be a father! But then he is told the termination will cost $560.  

Shostak interviewed 1000 men and found that 
  1. Abortion is a “death experience.” 
  2. Their most common post-abortion reaction was helplessness.
  3. Men, who are unable to mourn the abortion, learn how to be less nurturing parents in the future.
  4. The majority of relationships failed post-abortion.
So what is killed is not just a child, but a family. 

“Unfortunately, it is a fact that, especially in the West, the family is considered an obsolete institution,” Pope Francis told members of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See on Jan 8. “Today fleeting relationships are preferred to the stability of
a definitive life project. But a house built on the sand of frail 
Pope Francis addresses the diplomatic corps on Jan. 8
and fickle relationships cannot stand,” he added, describing marriage as the rock: “that faithful and indissoluble communion of love that joins man and woman, a communion that has an austere and simple beauty, a sacred and inviolable character and a natural role in the social order.”

In an abortion, sensitive men who try and show support by accepting the woman’s decision are often rejected later for not standing up for the their child. “How could you say nothing during this crisis and let me just go out and kill our child?” These forgotten fathers have to deal with double grief — the loss of their child and the loss of their relationship with their children’s mothers, according to “The Effects of Abortion on Men: its Emotional, Psychological and Relational Impact” on CatholicCulture.org by Vincent Rue and Cynthia Tellefsen.

Men who positively pressure women into having an abortion will face a great emotional price when the reality of the  abortion is sinks in. Pope Saint John Paul II said, “by leaving her alone to face the problems of pregnancy, he indirectly encourages such a decision on her part (to abort).” (Mulieris Dignitatem)  He adds, “In this way the family is thus mortally wounded and profaned in its nature as a community of love and in its vocation to be the sanctuary of life.” (The Gospel of Life)

“Abortion rewrites the rules of masculinity,” authors Rue and Tellefsen said. “While a male is expected to be strong, abortion makes him feel weak. A male is expected to be responsible, yet abortion encourages him to act without concern for the innocent. A male is expected to protect, but by law he is encouraged to do otherwise.”

“It is clear that in addition to the other victims of abortion, men too suffer. They too pay a high price for reproductive ‘freedom.’ They too lose in the high stakes world of reproductive ‘choice’ guided only by the self and expediency. Killing hurts the living too. It knows no gender bias,” Rue and Tellefsen concluded.

I highly recommend Troubadours Sailing Hibiscus Seas. Author Father X obviously comes from a Catholic background, but the book is full of unorthodox Catholic 
Prolife Artist Judith Gait
positions as he grabs for images from Hinduism, Platonism, and pantheism to explain his feelings. Judith Gait is Catholic, the mother of five children, but she also uses unorthodox 
images. The work, however, is catholic in the sense that it is human and universal. It is an act of reparation. Many will decide not to have an abortion after reading it.

“The Valkyries  (choosers of the slain) hold the key to the future. The embryo is alive from the moment of Conception. It is an Olympian role model and has exceptional durability. In the world of competitive sport, sperm racing comes out in a league of its own, with over 270 million contestants present at each jet race of love. But only one tad of sperm can be the winner and fertilise the Egg of Life. The Valkyries of Thor, who finally decide to abort, will take away a little life and spoil the mating game in one bold toilet flush.” 

Yes, Father X, that is the reality of human life. 

Because of the so-called illusory freedom of female “choice,” in the West, our civilisations faces a demographic winter in which our populations will not replenish themselves. How ironic, Hawaii had a false nuclear alert on Jan. 13 that made 
everyone fear their life was over. Parents sent their children into drain pipes. That wasn’t a pleasant experience. And Hawaii has my deepest sympathy. But drip drop. The real holocaust is silent and slow, and we are causing it ourselves.  We are destroying our civilisation slowly one child at a time. 

Pope Francis nailed it on Jan. 8: “Disregard for families has another dramatic effect – namely, a decline in the birth rate. We are experiencing true demographic winter! This is a sign of societies that struggle to face the challenges of the present, and thus become ever more fearful of the future, with the result that they close in on themselves.”

“Whether to terminate a child or not: decisions which are often made in fear and confusion and yet usually are paid for in a lifetime of regret.” (Father X)  

This poem was written by a young single man whose girlfriend decided to have an abortion without consulting him.
Please tell me about our child. 
Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it. 
I know it’s been on your mind a lot. 
So tell me. 
I need to know. 
Was our baby a little boy or a little girl? 
What would he have looked like? 
Would she have smiled when you held her to your breast? 
Would she have reached out with tiny hands with that warmth in her eyes, 
that comes from knowing that she was safe and loved? 
How much did she weigh? 
Was carrying her all that hard as you both grew larger and larger? 
Did you feel full again and alive, like a woman? 
What color was her hair, her eyes? 
Did she kick inside you? 
Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it. 
I know you have. 
I know it’s probably been on your mind a lot since then. 
So please tell me. 
I need to know. 
I need to know because I am a man and I have thought about it a lot. 
Every day.
Since before you left me. 
And I know that if our baby’s going away has torn out of me as much as it has, 
it tore out of you, too, only more. 
She was inside of you. 
And she was torn out. 
I know that what I say is true. 
So please don’t deny that. 
I need to know. 
And so do you. 

To order Troubadours Sailing HIbiscus Seas: 
Email Judith Gait at gaitlaan@gmail.com.
The cost is 13.50 Pounds, including postage in the UK.  If it is to be sent to the U.S., the cost of the book is 22 Pounds. That includes postage. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Epiphany! The Light has Come into the World

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Epiphany of the Lord, Jan 7, 2018
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

Today we come to the end of the Christmas
season. The Feast of Epiphany calls us to keep our eyes focused on the Light that has come into our world through the manifestation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Epiphany means "a moment of sudden revelation or insight." So we can see today’s Gospel message as the revelation of the Kingdom of God in our world. Our Lord came as a small baby, the Incarnation of God and the K
ing of the new world to come.

At His first coming,supernatural signs accompanied His presence. In the Gospel of Luke we hear that a host of angels appear to shepherds in the fields to point the way to this newborn King. They dance in the sky proclaiming “Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people on earth.”

In today’s Gospel (Matt 2:1-12), there is a supernatural sign in the manifestation of a star. We hear of the Magi or so called “wise men” who were astrologers. Although these
men were considered pagans, their hearts were open to the revelation given through the prophets of old that a deliverer would at some time in history be born in Bethlehem which is the ancestral home of King David.

We hear of this prophecy in today’s first reading from Isaiah who says, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you… Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance… Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.”

This prophecy from Isaiah is fulfilled in today’s Gospel when the Magi come to worship the Infant Christ. They honour Baby Jesus and do Him homage, bringing gifts of frankincense and gold. These two gifts had a spiritual meaning: the gold represented the symbol of Our Lord’s kingship and the frankincense, or  perfume, represented the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet, there was a third gift the Magi brought -- myrrh. This third gift is associated with Jesus's death, necessary for the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God.  It is when Our Lord comes the second time that His kingdom will be established in its fullness. Then the prophecy of today’s first reading (Isaiah 60:1-6)will be fulfilled:  “Nations shall walk by [His] light, and kings by [His] shining radiance.”

My brothers and sisters, as we celebrate today’s Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us rejoice because we have a King and Saviour! Let us praise God for the light of His Kingdom that has come upon the darkness of the earth.

Let us be reminded, however, that as we wait,  we are truly in a battle. While today’s Gospel focuses on the Magi, we learn of another individual who also wanted to be led to our Lord Jesus Christ. This is King Herod. The Magi could see the star of Our Lord, but King Herod could not. Herod could not see past his own selfish desires for power and control. For, the same child honoured by the Magi, Herod sought to kill. We are reminded that until Our Lord comes again, we are locked in a spiritual battle between the light of Christ and the darkness of evil.

My brothers and sisters, let us open our hearts to the revelation of Our Lord Jesus
Fr. John Paul Shea
Christ, the Light of the world. He has come to save us from our sins. He has come to establish the kingdom of His Father.

In the meantime, be strong in your faith. Faith is the guiding star that leads us into the kingdom. 

Our Blessed Mother will help us. She too is a guiding star. If we devote ourselves to Mary, she always leads us to Her Son. She points
us in the right direction. Call upon the protection of Our Blessed Mother! She is there for our conversion and repentance. She -- the Mother waiting at the foot of the cross -- asks us to pray the Rosary for souls that might be lost.

As we celebrate the Epiphany in this New Year of 2018, let us focus our hearts on the light of Christ because we have been given the gift of salvation. Let us be led by His star of Truth. “For darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon [us] the LORD shines.”  Stand firm in your faith.