Friday, January 7, 2011

Homily: Epiphany of the Lord- ABC

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord ABC – Homily by Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 60: 1-6; Ps 72:1-2,7-8,10-11,12-13; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6 and Matt 2:1-12

Epiphany: A Call to Manifest our Faith
Dear friends Merry Christmas!
Wasn’t that a wonderful Christmas celebration? And we narrowly escaped the snow! Today we come again in a New Year 2011, as a faith community, perhaps with New Year resolutions, to reflect further and further, deeper and deeper on the events of this mystery of Christ’s Birth. We gather to solemnly celebrate The Epiphany (Theophany, Christophany)= the manifestation of Jesus as  our Messiah, Son of God and the Savior of the World rooted in today’s Scripture passages.
Prophet Isaiah who had long foretold the birth of Christ (Isa 7:14) sings praises of his birth in today’s first reading (Isa 60:1-6) to those who lived to see this day, to those finally set free from captivity. Christ Birth is not only an entrance of Light into the world of darkness, human brokenness and sufferings but a manifestation, a revelation of the Glory of God, his Love, his Mercy, his Tender Care and Kindness to all nations, Jews and Gentiles, to the poor and the rich, the queens and the kings.
Epiphany is manifestation of God to our children, to mummy and daddy, to husbands and wives, to friends and partners to colleagues and peers. It is a feast when Jesus is made known to the whole world. Just as the Psalmist would put it, “Lord, every nation on earth shall adore you” (Ps 72). Epiphany is a gathering of every nation to adore Christ. This is true even when you look at our faces, our colors, and our eyes our last names. We came from different ancestral origins. What a miracle of faith. This is true, particularly, in the visit and the reaction of the Shepherd, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna to the birth of Christ.  This is true in the reaction of the Magi, the three wise men, in today’s Gospel reading (Matt 1:1-12) to the birth of Christ. Guided by the star, which was their domain of specialization they came all the way from the East, from abroad outside Bethlehem/Judea, to adore Christ, to worship Christ= (proskunh/)= to submit themselves to Christ and to offer Christ gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Every nation adores the Lord!
I believe that, God uses the star as an instrument to call the wise men, to lead those who were studying stars to embrace His will.  God can speak to us; He can manifest Himself to us through our various professions and occupations. You don’t need to be a priest or nun to have faith. You can be an attorney, a nurse a doctor, a secretary, a receptionist, a broker, a plumber, a factory worker, a church volunteer, a student, employed or unemployed, a bank teller, a football coach, a husband, housewife, a Jew or Gentile with deep faith. Salvation is Universal (Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6).
I also want to believe that the journeys of magi were not rosy-rosy. They were difficult one. The must have left their homes, children and family members searching for Christ in a territory where Herod was appointed the king of the Jews by the Roman imperialism. I am sure been learned scientist they were not naive, they knew, humanly it would be risky saying to the face of the reigning king that they were searching to adore another “King of the Jews.” These things as it were are possible when we walk with deep faith, when we listen to the impulses of the Holy Spirit, when we follow the light of Christ not our own will.
Not only that they submitted (proskunh/)= themselves to Jesus, but as earlier foretold in Isaiah 60:6, the Magi like those from Sheba offered Christ the most precious gifts from the East- gold, frankincense an myrrh- the best for God. 
Gold- recalls he royalty of Christ which lies in his mission of justice, peace, love, forgiveness and holiness of life- Not bullying, revenge and terrorism. In Frankincense we recall the perfume we use here occasionally on the altar especially here in our parish during funerals- which is a symbol of hope and faith that we all place in Jesus our Messiah. In 2 Corinthian 2:15 St. Paul even reminds us to give off that noble “aroma of Christ” among ourselves- peace, love, forgiveness, universalism, inclusiveness, friendship and acts of charity. In Myrrh we recall the sufferings, the pains and passion of Christ. On the Cross they gave Jesus wine mixed with Myrrh or gall and when he tasted he did not drink it (Mark 15:20-23; Matt 27:33-44). And it was with Myrrh in John 19:39 that Nichodemus anointed Christ’s body for burial.
And I think Epiphany is a celebration of our faith from the strength of our jobs, vocations and occupations. Many with various occupations gathered here have that faith. Many with various professions are still searching for that faith. Like in the case of the Magi sometimes the journey may be long and rough. When we finally find that faith we are call to share it with others, with our friends and relatives; That Faith, that aroma of Christ, that golden peace, that inclusiveness, that joy, that charity, that forgiveness, those gifts.
Let me end by sharing one of my Christmas gifts with you. It is prayer sent to me by one of the SSND nuns.  I want to pray with you. Repeat this after me:
Dear God,
I ask you to bless me and to watch over me this day
May my feet walk, where my presence will be a [glimpse) manifestation of you
May my hands [touch] manifest for someone in pains
May my eyes always see the good in everyone they meet
May my ears listen only to praise, and not to words that tear down
May my mouth always {speak) manifest the truth
May my mind not judge others because they are different
May I just be myself and a {reflection) manifestation of you!

Peace be with you!