Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Remember: We're Still Having a Merry Christmas!

The Wise Guys have arrived!
Today is January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, in which we continue to celebrate God revealing Himself to the world in the flesh of Jesus Christ. We recall the "wise men from the East" who came from far away to pay homage and give gifts to the new king of Israel (see Matthew 2:1-12).

In the Byzantine tradition, today is the great feast of the Theophany, recalling the revelation of the Trinity as Jesus emerges from the waters of John's baptism (see e.g. Matthew 3:13-17). The Latin tradition will join in this commemoration in a few days.

And though the liturgical observance of the Epiphany is transferred to the nearest Sunday in the United States and a number of other countries, we are still observing "Epiphany week." Thus, in these days, the ordinary form of the Roman rite continues to pray:

"O God, whose Only Begotten Son has appeared in our very flesh,
grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize as outwardly like ourselves.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."

The formal liturgical observance of Christmas celebrations continues in the Western churches until Sunday, January 11. Moreover, the "classical Christmas season" (still observed in many cultures) lasts for 40 days, ending on February 2 with the feast of the Presentation, which commemorates Mary and Jesus being brought to the temple to fulfill the law of Moses, and that moment when the poor of Israel recognize Him through the eyes of Simeon and Anna (see Luke 2:22-38).

We still have much to celebrate in these days.

So there is no rush to take down the tree and decorations. Light up your January nights and let the brightness warm your hearts.

Jesus is with us. The Mystery that makes us, for whom our whole life is one great longing, is here. He has made Himself present in time, in history, so that we can find Him, so that He can shape our history, so that He can dwell with us and draw close to us in all our efforts and our cheer, and especially our sufferings.

God makes our human reality His own. How small and strange we are, with our glittery kitch ornaments and our awkward expressions, our funny-shaped noses and faces, our complaints and our cleverness, our gadgetry and our games. He has come to be with us.

That's a fact worth celebrating for more than one day. This is a season for that profound and humble human quality that brings together beauty and humor, a dark and cold season in which nevertheless we are -- or at least we desire to be -- merry.

And so -- because I am astonished to find that I am a quirky and odd little man in a family of funny people who have been chosen to be brothers and sisters of God -- I shall even today greet you all in this fashion [there should be a video below]: