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The Epiphany of the Lord – Homily

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 2:1-12
January 7, 2018

As the Babylonian Exile ends, Isaiah told the people, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”  They have been set free by the Lord.

The Israelites were a chosen people but were supposed to share the light with others, “nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.”  The light is meant for all, Gentile or Jew.

Paul writes to the Ephesians of his mission to the Gentiles who are coheirs to the promise of the gospel.

The Magi are drawn by a star to the newborn king of Jews.  They are not Jews but Gentiles yet they are open to what is going on.  On the other hand, there is King Herod who is a Jew but it seems he is a Jew in name only.  He sees Jesus’ birth not for the grace it brings but as a threat to his power.

Are we open to grace?  Are we open to light of Christ guiding us?

The Magi were guided by a star.  Prior to GPS and modern maps, navigation by the stars was coming, especially at sea, but what wasn’t coming was the star moving to guide them!  Clearly, this was something very special.  The Magi travelled some distance and brought gifts because they were open to what was going on.

King Herod was not.

Are you open to God guiding you?  How much do you go about your life, finding your own way instead of asking God to guide you?

What about our leaders?  How many people in position of leadership do we wish to reject because they want to do their own thing?

Do we pray for them?

The first verse of our psalm says, “O God, with your judgment endow the king.”  We must ask God to guide all leaders.  This includes our government leaders who take the place of kings but it is not just our political leaders that we need to pray for.  We should pray for all leaders, in government, in business, and in our church.

What is it that we are to pray for our leaders?  We might be tempted to pray that they do what we want.  This might seem reasonable but it is not what the verse from our psalm speaks of.  This verse asks God to endow our leaders with God’s judgment.  God is the one who knows what is best.  We need to let God lead.  We need to pray for God to guide all our leaders.

We can all have our own opinions.  Sometimes the different opinions are based on personal preferences.  For instance, when I first got here it was summer and we were “saying” the Lord’s Prayer at Mass.  As we moved into Fall, some people asked when we going to start “singing” the Lord’s Prayer again because they liked to sing it.

Then, shortly after we started singing the Lord’s Prayer, other people came to be asking if we could just say the Lord’s Prayer instead of singing it.

There are always going to be different preferences.

Some things will always be a matter of personal preference but on things of significance, we need to ask for God who knows what is best and has a plan to show us the way.

With this in mind, I encourage you to pray for our church leaders, for our pope, our bishop, as well as myself.  Pray for all in leadership positions in our parish to follow God’s will.

Singing or saying the Lord’s prayer seems pretty simple but there are bigger things we need to work on.  For instance, we struggle to find volunteers and leaders for our parish festival.  One might ask what does the festival have to do with God’s work.  It helps fund the ministry and it can build community.  On Monday, we have a meeting about the future of our festival.  Please pray for this meeting to be led by God’s Spirit.

In terms of funding ministry, there is also our parish deficit that we spoke about in our annual report in August.  We will be offering a six-month update in the coming weeks but collections have not risen much.  If you are able to increase your parish contributions, it would help.  Whether you can contribute more or not, please pray for all to give within their means.

As you pray for our parish, please also pray for more volunteers, not just for the festival but the rummage sales, and for our ministries to help poor and for new ministries if that is what God wants.

Please pray for myself and all our parish leaders as we discern what to do with our school building.  It’s a big building that needs work and costs a lot to heat.  Pray that God leads us.

As we think about declining numbers in the parish, please pray that we follow God’s lead to awake faith in more people.

Many of these issues are not unique to our parish.  Please for all our area parishes, that we might find ways to work together to strengthen our churches to bring the gospel to all.

God led the Magi by the star to Jesus.  May the Lord lead us as individuals, as a parish, as a diocese, and a universal Church to accomplish his will.

 

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