The Epiphany of the Lord

The Solemnity of the Epiphany is God’s showing or revelation of His Son to the world. Traditionally, this revelation is seen as taking place in three incidents in the Holy Scripture: the journey of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus by John, and the changing of water into wine at Cana, the first public miracle. In the Catholic Church, we emphasize the first aspect this week, the magi, and the second Epiphany next week, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord[1].

Today we meet Seekers. The Magi, Wise Men, Kings, whatever name you wish to give them, were seekers. They were pagans, but they were committed to finding the truth; the truth will set you free[2]

All of us, though, must be seekers of truth throughout our lives. None of us have completed the journey that God has set aside for us in our lives. When we are open to his grace, we continually grow in the knowledge of his truth.

Some people proclaim, "I have found the Lord," and then go on to be hurtful and intolerant of those who have not had an experience similar to their experience.

Sometimes they are within the Catholic Church. They feel so overwhelmed by their experience that they treat other Catholics as mediocre Christians because they don't share their particular prayer situation. Christians who put other people down are not behaving like Christians. Jesus never did this. He was open to everyone. He never put anyone down. The only people that he did have a difficult time with, according to the Gospels, were those people who thought they were better, holier than others.
Still, most of the people who state, "I have found the Lord," are people of good will. They have in fact had an experience of God's presence. Have they found the Lord or not? Yes, they have! They have found one of the many ways that God is present loving them and loving us all. Usually their discovery is that God cares for them personally. This is good and beautiful. But those who are intolerant and heartless are journeying in the wrong direction.

We should be very sensitive that God is present in an infinite variety of ways in our lives and in our world. If we focus on only one way that God is present, such as the personal call, we might miss many other ways he is present. We have to be seekers. We have to search for the Lord wherever he might be found, including the expression of his truth that proceeds from those who are very different from us such as a Hindu like Mahatma Gandhi[3], or a Jew like Martin Buber[4].

"I have found the Lord”, great, but keep looking. You have only found one of the many facets of Infinite Truth, only one of the many ways that the Lord loves you. A retreat experience, the birth of a child, a recognition of the depths of love of a friendship or your marriage, a traumatic situation you have survived, your adjustment to living as a single Catholic parent, the courage it takes to deal with physical challenges and sickness, Eucharistic adoration, all of these are additional ways you can find the Lord.

We have to keep searching for the Lord until the day we die. If we are not physically dead when we stop searching for him, we will be spiritually dead.

Like the wise men of the Solemnity of the Epiphany, our lives must be a journey of faith searching for the Lord.

His light is strong. His love is near. May he draw us beyond the limits that this world imposes to the life where his Spirit makes all life complete.

[1] Sunday 6th January, 2008, Epiphany. Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you-Ps 71(72):1-2, 7-8, 10-13. Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6. Matthew 2:1-12. The third Epiphany, Cana, is only presented every third year on the week after the Baptism.
[2] Cfr John 8:32
[3] Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869–January 30, 1948) was a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, firmly founded upon ahimsa or total non-violence—which led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi is commonly known in India and across the world as Mahatma Gandhi) and as Bapu (Gujarati: બાપુ bāpu—"Father"). In India, he is officially accorded the honor of Father of the Nation and October 2, his birthday, is commemorated each year as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday. On 15 June 2007, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution declaring October 2 to be the "International Day of Non-Violence." As a British-educated lawyer, Gandhi first employed his ideas of peaceful civil disobedience in the Indian community's struggle for civil rights in South Africa. Upon his return to India, he organized poor farmers and laborers to protest against oppressive taxation and widespread discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for the alleviation of poverty, for the liberation of women, for brotherhood amongst differing religions and ethnicities, for an end to untouchability and caste discrimination, and for the economic self-sufficiency of the nation, but above all for Swaraj—the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi famously led Indians in the disobedience of the salt tax on the 400 kilometers (248 miles) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and in an open call for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years on numerous occasions in both South Africa and India. Gandhi practiced and advocated non-violence and truth, even in the most extreme situations. A student of Hindu philosophy, he lived simply, organizing an ashram that was self-sufficient in its needs. Making his own clothes—the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl woven with a charkha—he lived on a simple vegetarian diet. He used rigorous fasts, for long periods, for both self-purification and protest.
[4] Martin Buber (8 February 1878 – 13 June 1965) was an Austrian-Israeli-Jewish philosopher, translator, and educator, whose work centered on theistic ideals of religious consciousness, interpersonal relations, and community. Buber's evocative, sometimes poetic writing style has marked the major themes in his work: the retelling of Hasidic tales, Biblical commentary, and metaphysical dialogue. A cultural Zionist, Buber was active in the Jewish and educational communities of Germany and Israel. He was also a staunch supporter of a binational solution in Palestine, instead of a two-state solution, and after the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel, of a regional federation of Israel and Arab states. His influence extends across the humanities, particularly in the fields of social psychology, social philosophy, and religious existentialism.
Ilustration: Since the Early Christian era, the 6 January has been celebrated as the feast of Epiphany, the appearance of God amongst men in the form of Jesus Christ. Mankind is represented by the Three Kings, who are paying homage to the Messiah. The fall of the pagan world began at the same time as his appearance. Leonardo appears to have depicted this moment, so dramatic in human history, in his panel. It remained unfinished because Leonardo left Florence and moved to Milan, though we do not know why he did so. Chemical reactions and soiling mean it is now difficult to read this fascinating panel in detail. With this painting Leonardo declares his independence from Verrocchio, emerging with a fresh, personal style. Although unfinished, this painting is far more innovative than his previous works. The composition is constructed around a central, pyramidal grouping of figures, and, most significantly, Leonardo here incorporates lights and darks in the underdrawing of this painting. Even though the panel remained unfinished, the Adoration of the Magi, with its symmetrically composed main group which differs from the traditional linear composition, is now considered one of the most progressive works in Florentine painting. It puts into practice the demands Alberti made of history paintings in a way no other work in its era does. All the figures are involved in the events in the picture. The distinguished kings display their emotions in a more dignified manner than the accompanying figures around them, and the overall number of participants is kept within moderation. The figures are grouped in a circle around Mary and are expressing, with more or less vigorous gestures, their emotion at the first demonstration of divinity of the Christ Child. The painting also differs from the traditional way of depicting the Adoration in Florence by means of the puzzling scenes in the background, the equestrian battles and an unfinished staircase. This led to the assumption that the Augustinian convent of San Donato in Scopeto, which had commissioned the picture, wanted to use this picture composition in order to convey its own theological interpretation of the Adoration theme.

Leonardo da Vinci, Adoration of the Magi (1481-82), Oil on panel, 246 x 243 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi (Florence).

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris