Friday, January 10, 2014

It's Still the Christmas Season: The Light Shines For Everyone

We continue to follow the star.
Grant, we ask, almighty God,
that the Nativity of the Savior of the world,
made known by the guidance of a star,
may be revealed ever more fully to our minds.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.

Thus we pray on the Friday after the feast of the Epiphany. The final week of the liturgical season is crowned with Sunday's feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the event known as the Theophany in the Eastern churches: the manifestation of God. It is at the baptism in the Jordan that the Trinity is revealed and the sending of the Son openly proclaimed. As Jesus rises up from the waters, the Holy Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father is heard, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (see Matthew 3:13-17).

Christmas is all about the manifestation of God. It is about God making his epiphany in the world. Jesus is born in Bethlehem. The shepherds, the poor of Israel, are summoned to be the first witnesses to God's definitive presence in the world.

At the same time, a star rises in the heavens, a sign appears on the horizon of the human search for goodness and beauty, for truth and meaning. The Mystery: the holy, infinite, unknowable One who is the Source of all things, and who draws with implacable persistence the heart of every human person, shines upon the horizon and beckons them to follow this light.

The nations, the peoples from all corners of the world embark upon a journey guided by the light: those who are poor in spirit, who are searching and hungering for the Mystery, and who are wise enough to know their complete dependence on this Mystery, who have allowed themselves to be wounded by the hunger that is within them, who have listened to the promise whispered in their hearts even if they have not understood it.

They follow the light.

There are others too, who are awakened from a slumbering life by the fire of this light that stirs their soul. It comes as a surprise, a completely new beginning for them, even if it is true that the light has always been there beneath their shadows.

The peoples journey from afar, carrying with them the things that are most precious and most weighty: their hopes, troubles, questions, and also their sins, and their need for healing.

And they find the glory of God manifested. They encounter Infinite Love humbled before them, gazing upon them with the face of a child.