Happy New Year! I really hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas, that you got a chance to visit with your family, whether in person or virtually, and that you had a good New Year’s. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, the next to last Sunday in the Christmas Season. It seems like Christmas comes and goes so very quickly. Yet, isn’t that the reality for all parents, it seems like a child is born and the if you blink, they’re all grown up. Just this week I was away visiting my brother’s family and when I only get out there a few times a year, it’s amazing just how quickly his kids grow up. Next Week, we’ll celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, the official end of the Christmas Season and the move into Ordinary time, the time of Jesus’s public ministry.
The Epiphany is such an amazing feast when we really think about what’s going on. Magi in the East, quite literally priests of a pagan religion, were watching the stars, and through the stars, they were able to see what was sitting there in the Middle of Jerusalem. They came to worship the new high king, while the crowned king, Herod, was jealous and tried to kill the child. It’s amazing how when we’re close to something, any change can seem threatening. How many times have we found ourselves fighting with our families, arguing about something? Maybe someone storms off upset, or someone else angrily starts yelling. We can then look at another family and say, man...they have it nice, I wish I had what they have. Yet, if someone walked in and said the very same thing to us, “man, I wish I had what you have” we hardly believe them. It’s so easy to take for granted things we’ve known all our lives. It’s so easy to find ourselves like Herod, feeling threatened by losing power, control, or influence. It’s easy to be afraid of change. When we have something to lose, it’s easy to feel threatened.
But isn’t that the mystery of Jesus Christ, of the whole Gospel, that we’re going to lose a lot? Remember, we’re following a guy who was nailed to a tree. Yet, in losing the whole world, we stand to gain everything. I think of those Magi. They could have done just like Herod, realized that the prophesy said that a Jewish King would rule over them, and decided to go and eliminate this Jewish King. Yet, they didn’t. They chose to pay homage to him, to bring him symbolic gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. I’ve included a short article on what those gifts were all about and why they were significant, (see page 8), but I’d like us to think seriously about the idea that instead of seeing Jesus as a threat, the way Herod did, they chose to accept the change, to accept him as their King.
In our parish, lots of things have changed pretty dramatically this last year. We’re now in a new year. This month, our new parish council will begin meeting. As we get things moving, there will probably be some changes, as there are with everything. We’re going to have to make some decisions as we move forward. I’m going to be looking for your input on those decisions through the council. I’m not thinking of anything specific, and I don’t know exactly what those changes will be until we really meet and get to hear from people, but as we do walk through whatever comes in this new year, I’d ask you to really consider. Am I thinking like Herod, or like the Magi? Am I welcoming the newborn king, or am I threatened by him? Do I welcome Jesus as Lord of my life or do I want to be lord of my own life? Am I looking for how we can together share the message of Jesus Christ with the world? Or am I looking to keep ahold of what’s comfortable and familiar?
As we begin this new year, let’s choose to offer our own offerings of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh to the newborn king. Let’s choose to offer our lives to the one who loved us first.
God Bless You & Happy New Year!
- Fr Matt
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.