The Epiphany of the Lord

Dear Friends and Parishioners of Saint Jerome,

Happy New Year! I wish for you the plenitude of God’s blessings. May your joy be complete, your health be spared from any sickness and your heart always experience the depth of God’s peace.

The Solemnity of the Epiphany which we celebrate today invites us to return to the manger scene. We literally find our manger here at Saint Jerome’s by the entrance of the church. Have you spent some time to examine the facial expression of each character representing that first Christmas night? Have you noticed the excitement and awe, the calmness and tranquility, the resignation and abandonment that is enveloped in the event of Jesus’ Birth? Have you found yourself involved as part of this Divine Manifestation? I mentioned to you several times during my Advent preaching that Christmas is a call for us to be actors in the intertwining revelation of God’s presence among us. It is easy to be just ordinary spectators and romanticize the stories that are associated with the Angels, the shepherds, the animals, the Magi and the Baby that was born. In fact, the cultural norm that designates to have the Christmas Season end up so quickly at midnight of December 25th where the social media propaganda speaks no more of Christmas and every excitement that is associated with it. The Christmas Season ended up so quickly that we have not had enough time to reflect profoundly on the depth and meaning of this event and how it has impacted our souls in a most special way.

So, the Gospel reading this weekend is bringing us back to the manger, as I pointed out earlier. Surprisingly, there were only two major characters that are mentioned in the Gospel story today as the Magi arrived on the scene. The shepherds were gone. St. Matthew says, “On entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.” (Mt. 2:11) I wonder what happened to Joseph? Could he be someone worth recognizing for being so involved in the entire event and yet chose to remain behind the scenes up to the point of being almost unrecognizable? Does this sound similar to the manner in which God is involved in our lives and yet remains invisible to the point of being unrecognizable? I guess that the Gospel is teaching us to act like Joseph and to live our lives like Joseph by cooperating in God’s work silently, humbly and diligently.

Then, as the spotlight was being focused on Mary and the Child, we can see an image of a Queen holding her Child, the King, who is adored by the Magi from the East. Yet more than the royal imagery as mentioned by St. Matthew in his Gospel is the relationship that is associated between Jesus and His Mother. It shows a mother who cares for her child and a child that is totally resigned to His mother. This is, in fact, the image of God who cares for us but also invites us to be completely resigned to His power. This, too, is the message of the Epiphany for us. Our abandonment to God is an experience of His complete safekeeping and protection.

God manifests Himself clandestinely like the way He did on Christmas night. God reveals Himself deliberately this way to prove His love to us. The other part of His revelation depends on how we open our hearts and our whole being so we can be fully disposed when His manifestations happen. Yes, we should return to the manger scene so we can gaze upon the image of the One who has loved us first. But, most importantly, we should return to the manger scene in the silence of our hearts where the love of God is born and where the love of God is constantly making an affirmation that we are precious in His eyes in the Name of Jesus the Lord.

May your encounter with the living God this year and always be your strength and inspiration.

Sincerely in Christ and Mary,