St Francis Q&A

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Feast of the Epiphany - homily

You might remember the Washington Post ad from a few years ago, “if you don’t get it, you don’t get it”. That slogan often makes me think about this feast of the Epiphany. The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah, and the wise men ‘get it’ about who Jesus is. There is another commercial out now which uses the word ‘epiphany’ but it’s about a mundane product, beer. Some guy has an epiphany about Heineken beer, like the light just goes on for him. We use the term in a sacred context today, referring to our Lord and the realization that the wise men have about him.

They get it about who Jesus is and they come to “do him homage”. It might appear that King Herod and all of Jerusalem get it, too, because they acknowledge a newborn king. But, they really don’t get it because they are “greatly troubled” by Jesus. From the start of his life, Jesus is a polarizing figure; this would continue throughout his life, through his death, through his resurrection, and even today. Either we get it about Christ (or are at least trying to get it about Him) or we don’t. Either we believe in Him and do him homage or we don’t believe in Him and reject Him or don’t care about Him.

The other day at the school Mass I asked our students if they have had an epiphany about who Jesus is. Many of them raised their hands, as you would expect. I then asked them how they’d come to have their epiphany and explained that the wise men had a star which led them to Jesus. The students said that their parents, teachers, priests, friends, etc. had led them to have their epiphany that Jesus is the Messiah.

Have we had our epiphany? Do we get it about Christ? Do we really get it about who He is – that He is our Messiah, that He saved us from our sins, that he died for us and redeemed us? This event changed the lives of the wise men; the key word about their epiphany was that they were “overjoyed” with this event. When we get it about Christ and do him homage, when we give our lives to Him, that’s when we find joy and happiness in living for Him. To believe in Christ and his teachings is a challenge; but if we really get it, we are not “greatly troubled” by Jesus.

Unfortunately, there are many people we know who don’t get it about Christ in general, and especially about the Eucharist. My guess is that half of the registered parishioners at St Andrew’s don’t come to Mass… at all. If they don’t get it, they don’t get it. As we come to the Eucharist to do him homage, let us go from here and live out our faith in Christ this week while praying for those who don’t get it and are greatly troubled by Jesus.


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