The Epiphany of the Lord (2014)

It was a mystery. It was a truth hidden for the ages. It was revealed to Paul. No one would have ever heard of it, least of all Paul in the days when he was Saul of Tarsus, Pharisee and persecutor of anything that did not appear to be thoroughly Hebrew.  But the mystery was in Sacred Scripture.  It is just that no one understood the meaning of the verses[1].

The mystery was this: all the peoples of the world would be included in God’s great promise to the Jews.  Jews and Greeks, all people, would be co-heirs in Jesus Christ. They could have found this in scripture, though.  Isaiah said in today’s first reading that all nations would walk in the light of Jerusalem.  Kings would come bearing gifts of gold and frankincense and proclaim the praises of the Lord. And Kings did come.  Magi from the East appeared with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  They prostrated themselves before Jesus, and did him homage. They were fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy.

The Gospel of Luke often addresses the place of the gentiles in Christianity, making the point that a good gentile can become a good Christian.  But today’s reading isn’t from the Gospel of Luke.  It is from the Gospel of Matthew, the gospel written to show that in Jesus we find the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies.  This wasn’t about the worthiness of the gentiles. It was about God’s plan being revealed.

Perhaps the mystery of inclusion eludes many of us.  We speak about our oneness in Christ, but we still have a temptation to consider some people as lesser members of His Body.  For example, we are inclined to see those with cultures different than ours as less Christian than us.  This was the huge mistake of the past centuries when missionaries tried to turn the people of Asia, Africa and America into European Christians. The Church cannot be the Body of Christ unless it is open to all people.  Each person is unique.  Each person adds to the strength of the Body.
Perhaps there are some elements of the secret that is still hidden: no one is to be excluded from Christ.  What St. Paul says about the gentiles refers to all people of whatever background, experience, orientation, or what have you: We are all co-heirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the same promise of Christ Jesus through the gospel.

It is not good for us using religion as an excuse to look down on other people. The Solemnity of the Epiphany teaches us this: There is no us and them in Jesus Christ.  There is only one big us, an us that includes all people, everywhere ■

[1] The Epiphany of the Lord, January 4, 2015. Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Responsorial Psalm: 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12.

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