– Br. Michael, ofm
Epiphany 2024: Light Revealed in the Journey
– Isaiah 60.1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3.2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2.1-12
January 7, 2024
2024 Moveable Feast Days
In keeping with an ancient church ritual from a time when calendars were not readily available, at this point in the Liturgy for Epiphany one of the rituals was to announce the dates for the upcoming Liturgical Year. In times past it was necessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the liturgical year depend on its date.
Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year (USCCB) and like we are reminder into today’s feast of Epiphany how Christ is reveal to us in all the seasons of the year.
Announcement of Easter and the Moveable Feasts:
Know, dear brothers and sisters,
as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ,
so by leave of God’s mercy
we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection,
who is our Savior.
On the fourteenth day of February will fall Ash Wednesday,
and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.
On the thirty-first day of March we will celebrate with joy Easter Day,
the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the twelfth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the nineteenth day of May, the feast of Pentecost.
On the second day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
And on the first day of December, the First Sunday of the Advent
of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever.
It is good to be reminded our story is part of a bigger story. Our living through the days of this liturgical and calendar year are woven into the Christ story and we are called to take note of where he is manifested in our lives along the journey.
The Feast of Epiphany is one of the most ancient feasts of the church year, it has long been celebrated to remember Christ being revealed to people from all walks of life. It also serves as a reminder of how our lives are changed or transformed because of an encounter with him. We hear in today’s gospel, how the magi after meeting the Christ Child, “left for their own country by another road.”
Epiphany is a not just a bleep on the church year calendar, it’s not just a nice way to wrap up the Christmas Season, it is an opportunity for us to look at how the Light of Christ is woven into our story as we look back on the first six weeks of this new church year and this Christmas Season and to ask ourselves some important questions as we consider the other roads we are called to travel. Where have I encountered Christ? How has wonder and awe filled moments of my living? Am I allowing the true Light to be my guiding way or am I being caught up in the same fears as Herod? Where and how do I readily share my gifts?
Epiphany has long captured my imagination and my thoughts. Maybe because the questions I have just poised have filtered through my living. Or maybe because of the mysteriousness of the magi trusting a star – a star – to guide them to the “shepherd of Israel.” Or maybe because it is a moment to see Jesus – our Emmanuel – God with us – born for us – all of us; people from all walks of life, with our own interesting stories, moments marked throughout a year, with our baggage, our hopes, and our dreams.
The prophet Isaiah (60.1-6) reminds us, “arise, shine, your light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen upon you, lift up your eyes and look around you.”
As we journey into the days and months of this year; we too are the magi. It’s not simply about getting on our “camels” and reaching the next destination or the next feast or the next moment to numb ourselves. It is about being attentive to wonder and awe. I was reminded of this gift just the other day as I spent a day building Lego and going for a walk with my two youngest nephews. Wonder and awe, delight, and light… called to look up seeing light filtering in. The glory of the Lord has risen upon us, but if we keep drudging along with our eyes downcast and mumbling about the long journey, we will never see the stars, we will never be caught off guard by how close the Child born for us truly is in our lives. Let us consider: How has wonder and awe filled moments of my living? Am I open to wonder and awe being a guiding star for the months ahead?
Pope Benedict called the magi “men with a restless heart… filled with expectation… seekers of God.”
All journeys come with restlessness. Like many of us, St. Francis of Assisi was a restless person. He was always seeking the Christ, and in this seeking his restless heart was met with deep encounters and realities. When he went to the caves to pray – it was with expectant hope of meeting Christ. When he went out about creation preaching to birds, or picking the earthworms from the roadways it was his restless heart seeking God. When he was unpredictable in his actions it was because he was trying to pay attention to his heart and how it was creating a space for Christ. Each of us have these moments in our unfolding stories. We must ask ourselves: Where have I encountered Christ?
Pope Francis notes the “Magi personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home… they reflect the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts be anesthetized (numbed).” St. Paul in his letter to Ephesians (3.2-6) reminds us we are all “members of the same body and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” This hope-filled declaration speaks to us: a community of believers. As we long to know and see God, we each must continually invite our hearts to the truth and depth of the gospel for this is a beautiful, personal encounter and relationship with Christ. Unlike the magi who only had a brief encounter with him and then had to carry this as a guiding light for them on the rest of their life journey, we encounter Christ again and again: in each other, in serving others, in sharing our gifts, in praying together and in each Eucharist. In pondering this we ask ourselves: Am I allowing the true Light to be my guiding way or am I being caught up in the same fears as Herod? When do I readily share my gifts?
As much as we would like it to be Christmas every day of the year, we like the magi must set out on our journey. This journey filled with uncertain roads and mystery where Christ will meet us in the Ash Wednesday moments, the Triduum pathways, the joy of Easter, the refreshment of Pentecost, the time spent in ordinary living and then again in the reminder of how God chose to become one of us, when we will again remind ourselves as we cry out next Advent: “Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Our lives will look different 365 days from now, what will matter is how we journeyed from the crib of Christ by another road because of how we let the wonder and awe of Christ revealing himself to us impact us and in turn how we shared our gifts.
I would love nothing more than to stay here by the stable for next few months, but the time has come, for me, for you, for all of us, like the magi, like Joseph and Mary to now carry forth the promise of Christmas – Christ born – Christ our center. We are bearers of his light and hope for we are nourished with this Eucharist. In being nourished by Christ who is our light and center we serve as heralds for the world to look up for our light has come.
Creator of the heavens,
who led the Magi by a star
to worship the Christ Child:
guide and sustain us,
that we may find our journey’s end in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(The Daily Office SSF)