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Epiphany – Homily – The Gift of Jesus

The Epiphany of the Lord
Isaiah 60;1-6
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Matthew 5:1-12
January 8, 2017

Today we hear what we consider as the last piece of the Christmas story.  Here come the magi.  We don’t know much about them about them except that they come some distance from the East, were guided by a star, and they brought three gifts for Jesus.  The fact that they came from the East would indicate they are Gentiles.

As Gentiles, they would have believed in a different god than the Israelites.  Herod was appointed as a king over the Jews by the Roman Emperor but his response to the news of Jesus’ birth is not one of faith.  “He was greatly troubled,” by the news.  He saw it as a threat to his power.  He rejected Jesus so he could have the life he wanted.

This contrast to the response of the Magi who, as Gentiles, could have been indifferent to the birth of Jesus but they are the ones who travel afar and bring gifts to Jesus.  It is the Gentile Magi who recognize the gift of Jesus to the world.

At Christmas there is a lot of gift-giving.  How many gifts did you receive?  What was your favorite gift?  Did you receive some gifts that you didn’t want?  Did anyone “reject” a gift you gave them?

How about the gift of Jesus?  I think sometimes this can be the forgotten gift even for us who come to church.  We can become so used to celebrating Christmas that we take the gift of Jesus for granted.

The gift is offered to “every nation” including the Gentiles as coheirs and copartners in the promise of Jesus.

What does the gift of Jesus offer us?

We live in a world where there can be a lot of darkness, terrorism, war, violence, poverty, homelessness, illness, and broken relationships.  On Friday, there was another shooting, not necessarily an act of terrorism but mental illness.

In the midst of the darkness, Jesus brings us light.  It’s not that He takes away all our problems.  Sometimes He does but more often He offers us a way through the sufferings we face.  In doing so Jesus brings us light in the darkness.

Do we accept the gift of Jesus?  Some don’t because Jesus doesn’t give them what they want.  They want all their problems instantly gone.  They don’t want to have any problems.  They might want wealth, power, or prestige.  They want to have it their way.

If we are to accept the gift of Jesus, we need to accept that our way may not be the best way, that Jesus has a better way.

Our coming here says we want to have Jesus in our lives.  I’m reading a book called Forming Intentional Disciples.  The author, Sherry A. Weddell (all quotes from page 54, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Huntington, IN. 2012) speaks of “three concurrent journeys” that we need to embrace to be “intentional disciples.”

I’m going to start with the two that should be most familiar to us.  #2 is “the ecclesial journey into the Church through reception of the sacraments of initiation.”  This should be familiar to us as Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.

#3 is the active practice of our faith in coming to Mass and joining in the life of our parish.

Now, I want to go back to what she lists as #1, “the personal interior journey of a lived relationship with Christ resulting in intentional discipleship.”  (See my website article – “What Does it Mean to Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ?”)

Having a relationship with Jesus isn’t something we often talk about as Catholics.  We might that’s for the Protestants.

Actually, in this time of electronic communication, we might need to start with asking ourselves what it means to have a relationship with anyone.  You can’t have the kind of relationship I am talking about by texting, email, or social media.

We need to ask ourselves questions like who is Jesus to us personally.  What does knowing Jesus mean for us?  Is He a friend, brother, or a distant being?

Where do we find Jesus?  In church?  At home?  In others?

Do we spend time with Jesus?  Do we listen to Jesus?  Are we honest with Jesus?

When we open ourselves to Jesus, He gives us light.  When we follow his light, we experience what Isaiah talked about when he wrote “Then you shall be radiant at what see, your heart shall throb and overflow.”  When we begin to embrace Jesus, we in turn show his light to the world, a world that very much needs it.

Where are you in your relationship with Jesus?  What does seeing the light of Jesus mean to you?

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