The revelation of Christ to the three kings at Bethlehem is a symbol of His revelation to the whole of the Gentile world. Epiphany presents to us the calling of not merely a chosen few, but all nations to Christianity. It changed the promise of God to inclusion of all peoples. The church cannot be the body of Christ, unless it is open to all peoples for possible salvation. Paul tells us in our 2nd reading, “We are co-heirs, members of the same body, and copartners in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” This is what Pope Francis is continually reminding us of as well. He is calling us to an inclusive attitude. We live in a polarized world; a secular society. People struggle with life’s challenges and get off course. Is abortion a sin? Of course the taking of a life is still a sin. Do we have firm beliefs about relationships, marriage, immigration and other issues? Absolutely! We have moral values driven by the Ten Commandments, the virtues and church teaching. Sometimes we struggle following them. Some don’t agree with us! But Jesus reminded us – and so does Pope Francis – that the first and greatest commandment is to love God and the second is like it – to love your neighbor as yourself. These supersede all the other commandments. We need to approach one another first with love and compassion – not judgment and demands of change to our way. People may be in sin – but aren’t we all? That should not be an exclusion driver to keep someone from the church. Everyone is in the process of struggling with something. Look around you – I guarantee you are surrounded by sinners. Sinners – the same people that Jesus walked with, ate with and forgave!
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.” The world teaches us to change others to conform to ourselves. Jesus teaches us to change ourselves to conform to God – and by changing ourselves, through our witness and example, we begin to open the door to change for others. It is our job to bear witness to Christ through our lives. God will take care of changing the hearts of those who see us. We evangelize by walking with each other, by loving each other, by sharing each other’s pain and joy as brothers and sisters in Christ. It is scary to reach out to others who are different – but how scary it must have been for a young girl named Mary to travel the path she did!
It is the divinity of Christ which opens the doors to heaven for us once again. The darkness of the sin of Adam and Eve is dispelled – overshadowed – by the intensity of the light of Christ. It Is this same divinity which reaches into our hearts and souls to draw us in the direction of salvation. It is the humanity of Christ which connects to us and shows us the way to walk as we journey forward. Christ in His divinity created the road for us to travel in our return. Christ in his humanity provided us the map. The event of Christmas changed the trajectory of the world with the birth of a child. The Epiphany – the coming of the magi – shed light on the event to make it known to the world. It made evident the authenticity of the moment. It made evident the author of the event as God. And it claimed this historic moment for all peoples – Gentiles and Jews alike. At Epiphany the Light bursts forth to all nations and the prophecy is fulfilled.
We all share in the promise that has been revealed to us in the Epiphany. We are called to change our hearts opening ourselves to salvation by following in the footsteps of that tiny child. We are called to travel a different road – as the magi did when they left the baby Jesus – letting the light of Christ lead us forward. As Vincentians, we become that light of Christ to those we serve when we come in humility and GRATITUDE for the opportunity to not only share Christ’s light with others, but to see that light shining forth from their souls.
Lord Jesus, allow us to have the courage to follow in your light, listening to your words and being guided by your heart. Allow us to be the gift of love bringing light and hope into the lives of others. Give us the capacity to offer ourselves, listening with compassion, serving with affection, and praying with sincerity that your glory may be evident as it shines brighter than any suffering we encounter. We pray all of this in your name. Amen.