Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Feast of the Epiphany

Today’s Feast celebrates the manifestation of the Child Jesus as the Kings of Kings, the Son of God.  It celebrates the day the Wise Men or “Magi”, the three kings from the east travel to pay homage to Jesus.  They guided by the star, and by God through dreams are led to the crib to offer their gifts.  In many of the Orthodox churches it is celebrated on January 6 “Old Christmas Day”.  In the Latin Rite, of the Church it is celebrated on the Sunday after the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God.  Personally I have always been struck with the notion of the Kings offering the gifts to the child Jesus.  As a child I often wondered, what the three gifts meant, Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh?

The gifts of the magi were in many ways providential for what Jesus would be, and do!  Gold the gift given to a king, Frankincense “incense” was used by priests in liturgy and worship in the temple.  Myrrh, for me is the big one.  It was used for the preparation of the body for burial.  The gifts, symbolize Jesus as King, and Priest, who is to rule our hearts, the one who will offer the sacrifice of Himself, once and for all.  Jesus will be, the Lamb of God, who will take away our sins.

As I studied theology I became struck by the notion that we too have gifts to offer to the Child Jesus, to God.  We offer the gifts of our selves.  As I discerned my call to priesthood I often asked myself what possibly do I have to offer God?  What are my gifts and talents, yet it is precisely because of God that I do have gifts and talents, given by Him, to be used to build up His kingdom. Despite my own unworthiness, I have come to understand, that it is God who makes us worthy. 

I am always amazed at the talents of parishioners and their willingness to use those talents in ministry.  I am humbled as I witness people offer the gifts of their time, talent and treasure, back to God, for God.  Gifts that we are called to offer not just this time of the year but also everyday of the year.  Sadly, I still struggle to find ways to help people recognize their own giftedness, and to inspire them to use their talents for the building up of God’s kingdom-to come forward and offer the gift of themselves at the crib.  Somehow our society has equated recognizing ones gifts and talents to a negative thing.  In Today’s world we must be the Magi of our time!  I think this feast of the epiphany is meant to inform and inspire us that its ok to celebrate our talents, and that it is imperative that we offer them back to God by using them for the good.  Why?  Because He’s counting on it!

FYI I found this interesting explanation of the song twelve days of Christmas.

Apparently the song was written in England at a time when Catholicism was repressed or persecuted, at a time when it was against the law to be a Catholic. Hidden in the non-sense lyrics is a code, a catechism for children to learn. 1 God the Father, the true love, gave to the world a partridge in a pear tree, gave to the world a saviour who was His own unique son. 2 turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments; 3 french hens are the virtues of faith, hope and love; 4 calling birds are the 4 Gospels; 5 gold rings are the 1st 5 books of the OT called the Torah; 6 geese stand for the six days that God created; 7 swans are the 7 sacraments; 8 maids are the 8 Beatitudes; 9 ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit; 10 Lords are the 10 Commandments; 11 pipers are the 11 faithful Apostles; and 12 drummers are the 12 points in the Apostles’ Creed.

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