Sunday, 6 January 2013
I learned something new about this feast earlier this week (and I do so love learning new things); the word Epiphany means appearance. You may well have already known that but I'd never come across it before. It brought home the significance of the light appearing in the sky and the magi travelling hundreds of miles to follow it, of the light mentioned in Isaiah in the first reading having come and God's glory shining on us and the importance of our witnessing to our faith in everyday life. Today in Rome Pope Benedict spoke in his homily of how bishops (he consecrated four new archbishops today) need to be courageous "How can we not think, in this context, of the task of a Bishop in our own time? The humility of faith, of sharing the faith of the Church of every age, will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom of those who cling to what seems certain. Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day. Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous. And this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking. The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves. “Those who fear the Lord will not be timid”, says the Book of Sirach (34:16). The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates." Christ has appeared to us in his incarnation, he comes to us daily in the Eucharist, he is our light which we cannot keep hidden. No matter how hard it may be, no matter how much to world does not want to hear it we need to spread the Good News, to attest to what God has done for us in our lives. Just as much as the bishops need to be courageous, so do we. The magi took a huge risk in travelling so far, they risked so much for something that many would've considered utterly foolish. We are more lucky than they, we have a grounding in faith and don't have to go out on a whim, we have the Church to back us up, to sustain and support us.
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
The mind totally boggles when you try to fathom what it means that a poor, young virgin from the middle of nowhere was chosen to bear God's only son. On one level it doesn't make sense, how could this possibly happen? Why Mary, why not someone of greater influence in society? Through this fantabulous (I'm running out of adjectives...) mystery that we celebrate today we are shown what it is to be a part of the family of God. Being a son or daughter of the Father is not about how much money we make, what clothes we wear, what presents we were given for Christmas, how well respected we are by our peers, what house we live in; it has nothing to do with who we are in the world and to others, it is about who we are before God. Mary was not just materially poor, she was truly poor in spirit. She understood better than any of us her total need of God, she trusted him completely, depended on him for everything and when he called she answered. As we begin 2013 why don't we try to open ourselves up more and more to God, give ourselves totally to his will, to his love and mercy. It sounds easy but it is harder than many think but is well worth the effort. Mary is living proof of that.