Epiphany—The Light Shines in the Darkness!

“Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you!”

The meaning of this glorious feast, Epiphany, literally is “to shine upon.”  In the Biblical usage, it refers specifically to being physically visible, observable to the senses.  As we celebrate the Feast, the Gospel makes clear that the Star is to be seen in just that way, i.e. a visible manifestation of God’s Presence that draws attention to the great Mystery being unfolded, visibly, before the eyes of all who chose to see:  Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Magi. It is a manifestation that transcends earthly limits—it is for rich and for poor, and, of particular significance for us, it is for Jew and Gentile alike.  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is born for us; and, to use Pope Francis’ wonderful expression, the Face of the Father’s mercy has now been made visible to us!   But as with all the invitations we are given to deeper union with the Lord Jesus, it is an invitation that can be refused, as Herod catastrophically manifests in ordering the massacre of the Innocents.  We choose to say yes to the invitation, yes to deeper union with the Lord Jesus, yes to an increase of the flow of His grace into our lives.

What does that mean for us?  This Feast has, as a very particular focus of its grace, the character of being the Light that shines in the darkness, the Light that enlightens all men, the true Light that has come into the world.  As we yield to the grace of the Epiphany, His Light shines more brightly in our lives.  The purpose for this is always two-fold.  First, to bring us into deeper union with the Lord Jesus ourselves and second, to be the Light that is made visible, made manifest for those around us—we are meant to be a Light that leads others to the true Light, both as individuals and as a parish.  This is the constant call on the life of every disciple of the Lord Jesus, as He Himself points out when He calls us the Light of the world.

How do we do that?  A crucial answer to that question is given to us in I Cor. 12:7, when we are told that to each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit.  The Greek word for “manifestation” used in that verse is the same Greek root from which we get the word “Epiphany.”  It means something visible, observable for all to see—in other words, each of us is given the power of the Holy Spirit in a way that is to be visible to those around us, that they too may be drawn to the Light, the Light that shines on the Face of the Lord Jesus.

This is an especially crucial time for this, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the current outpouring of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, a Jubilee of Pentecost! As a parish so highly blessed with the gifts and Presence of the Holy Spirit, this is a particular time for us to embrace more fully the gifts that each one of us has been given, so that the Lord Jesus can use us to truly be that Light He has in mind for us.   We are called to be a light that will reach others, enabling them to see more clearly that the true Light that enlightens all truly shines in the darkness.  He has called us to be that Light, to be an inviting, welcoming People of God, joyfully worshiping the King of Kings in the power of the Holy Spirit. This year is a year of great promise for us as we cooperate with the movement of the Spirit, celebrating this great Jubilee, and being transformed, by His Presence, ever more into the disciples of the Lord Jesus that He has called us to be.  So in this Jubilee year, let your light shine! — Fr Ed