Feast of the Epiphany ..the coming of the three wise men/kings to the manger Epiphany means “showing” the showing of the infant Christ child to the world & to other world religions..one star, one child, one God.. ..a Christmas gift I still & will always treasure came to me two years ago from a wise little man, a pupil in St Benedict’s Primary School.. his gift? a small round tin & with a silver star decoration on top.. ..& I’m thinking pate..& it was what it said on the tin..frankincense & myrrh ..the aroma of spirituality & prayer..
“..at this sight [ of the infant of love ] you will grow radiant” ; Lord have mercy “..your heart [ & his heart ] throbbing & full “ ; Christ have mercy “..above you the Lord now rises..” [ Christ the morning star ] ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“he came to his own domain, & his own people did not accept him..but to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God” has God got the plan? is salvation history not the gradual realisation of the plan the strategy & its full implementation?.. some would call it predestination..I think not..God has to revise the plan to take account of our ability to live it out, or to damage it or even destroy it..does God know the date when our world will eventually overcome Covid?..the first Communion book I use with our young disciples is entitled “God’s greatest gift” meaning the Eucharist..you being here now, to bring to birth the infant Jesus in a piece of bread..God’s greatest gift Part 2, yet without a Part 1, the gift box you bring to manger is meaningless, a mere duty an obligation..when you open your gift box in front of infant here & now, inside is a message to him; 9 words “I choose to believe in your real presence”..”to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God” many of his own people then, many of his own people now, & dare I risk saying, many of us, do not accept him..only under our terms & conditions..& so the Epiphany the “showing” of God made man was shared with those outsiders, so long dismissed by insiders as lapsed, rejects unbelievers, spiritual gypsies, once a year Catholics coming on Christmas Eve because it gives parents grandparents a warm glow to have them in pew beside us..& in midst of this religious turmoil, points-scoring, hand-sanitising instead of soul searching; the invitation to meet God made man was offered to those who would be open to hearing it & responding to it..shepherds not innkeepers, a simple young virgin in a non-descript village betrothed to middle aged-carpenter who was certainly not expecting adventure nor humiliation..to three star-gazers written off by society, & by the rest of their society of astronomers.. dismissed as if tea-leaf readers..& each of them bless them against own better judgement, advice of wise seniors & to horror of those who loved them “just as you are” said yes the message in an angel or in a star, or in a companion who themselves had encountered a moment of annunciation..can you see now what/who they all had in common..in communion..God’s greatest gift?..Emmanuel “God is with us”..in a reluctant timid Mary, a distraught angry Joseph who wanted out.. band of shepherds we might label gypsies tinkers migrants, tolerated but to be honest, despised..& finally a threesome of dark skinned orientals no doubt coming with all their wealth with a hidden agenda..& the spectators were right, they had arrived with a hidden agenda..hidden from them after all their months of stupidity travel doubts disbelief & the one thing they kept their faith in, as so-called unbelievers, was a star..that was as much as they knew, & it was enough..“let what you have said be done to me..let what you have shown us so far be enough to keep us going” star-gazing live..did you know that across the world there are only 18 certified International Dark Sky Reserves..18 world-wide..as far afield as Namibia, Australia & the USA..incl 2 in Yorkshire; our NYM National Pk & Yorkshire Dales National Pk with exceptionally clear quality starry nights..when was last time you paused to look up at the stars above your stable your manger & this Church?..how many times since Christmas?.. & did you spot the Christmas star..the world, & some of us to be honest, look back on 2020 as a year of disaster..physically relationally economically & spiritually..”if there is a God, why has he dealt our world & our privileged safe little valley this cruel hand?”..his divine plan isn’t, never has been, pre-determined; we don’t, some of us don’t, believe in pre-destination save for one vital promise..that we are, as believers, those who choose to believe in Him, are destined for eternal life..in meantime, he leaves us choice wisdom experience encouragement to renew the face of the earth..the Holy Spirit can only re-create the face of the earth, eliminate covid, world hunger, wars, poverty, migrancy, the social/economic divide, through us if..if..if..we are prepared to become shepherds not innkeepers, star-gazers live not on line, front line disciples not sitting room streamed spectators..is this a time of disaster? or a grace-filled moment of opportunity?..word disaster comes from term “dis-astra” astra a star..dis-astra is when we dis-tance ourself from the star..take our eye off the star..& instead, go it alone or self-isolate or wait for God..if there is a God..to give us, give me, a sign..”the sign is this..the virgin is with child..she will give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel..a name which means “God-is-with-us”..I wonder how many of you here & now will have the courage, at end of this Mass, to come forward to the Christ child & the three wise men, who did accept him, fully accept him as companions on a journey to goodness knows where, & with goodness who knows who, into a future beyond our wildest dreams & expectations..he will provide part 2; Gods greatest gift, his Son’s real presence among us & in us; we have to provide part 1; 9 words “I choose to believe in your real presence” it is a risk to say it, & God’s greatest gift to share the journey with you..for the two of you on this great feast of the Epiphany, for he & you to show your real selves to one another, & begin a journey, happy in each other’s company..& remember what it said on the tin wise little 7yr old man gave me “frankincense & myrrh”..a fragrancy & an aroma to die for.. [ Epiphany Mt 2;1-12 ]