Epiphany of Our Lord

01-03-2021Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Magi? Wise men? Ancient astronomers? Kings? Who are these sojourners following the lightof the star to the Christ Child who is the Light of the world? We do know that they came toOur Lord to “do Him homage”. Following a star, they left the comfort of their familiarsurroundings to worship God. As the Gospel reminds us: When Jesus was born in Bethlehemof Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do himhomage.”

While Our Lord does not use a star to lead us to Himself, God still calls each one of us. Maybe God spoke to your heart through Sacred Scripture. Perhaps God spoke to you through people you met along the way. Maybe the “star” was your parents, a sibling, a coworker, a priest, a religious sister, a friend or a devoted lay person who led you to Our Lord. The “star” that called you to Our Lord could have been a magnificent church, or a beautiful painting, or an inspirational song or book that touched your heart. Whether it be something or someone, God still calls each of us. God puts a star in our sky and says, “Follow me”. The Magi followed the invitation of God and began their journey to Jesus.

The journey of the Magi was not a simple one. They had their share of difficulties along the way. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the Magi encounter the reigning King Herod. It turns out that he knew nothing of the birth of this new King. I imagine they were puzzled by the king’s questions and his lack of information for them. King Herod seemed a bit “put off” by the whole encounter. It would have been easy for the Magi to lose hope and give up, but they were determined to not be discouraged by the ordeal. They persevered in their quest and they would quit!

I am grateful that many people today have found their way to Christ despite the fact that parents, clergy, and others who should have led them to Jesus were confused about the faith. I am often humbled by the amazing conversion stories I have heard from people who found their way to Christ and His Church despite their frustrations and hardships. Things like poor religious upbringing, scandalous clergy, and less than stellar role models. Once again, their faith proves that God sometimes allows us to be tested along the way. Do not be discouraged because those who persevere to the end find the reward of eternal life to be worth the sacrifice.

As intentional disciples of Our Lord Jesus, we know there is a cost as we live out our faith. Like the Magi, true disciples knew in their hearts that giving our life to Christ is more than a simple altar call or baptism. True faith changes us and moves us closer to the kingdom. True faith invites us into an intentional relationship with Jesus Christ… a relationship that includes crosses. Many faithful Catholics know too well that Jesus invites His followers to “take up their cross” and follow Him.

Not only are the Magi not discouraged but they are moved to offer gifts. These gifts include gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They are reminders that true faith comes with a cost. Msgr. Charles Pope offers this beautiful reflection of what each gift from the Magi represents.

Gold symbolizes all of our possessions. In laying this gift before Jesus, they and we are saying, “I acknowledge that everything I have is yours. I put all my resources and wealth under your authority and will use them only according to your will.” A conversion that has not reached the wallet is not complete.

Frankincense is a resin used in incense and symbolizes the gift of worship. In the Bible, incense is a symbol of prayer and worship (e.g., Psalm 141). In laying down this gift, we promise to pray and worship God all the days of our life, to be in His holy house each Sunday, to render Him the praise and worship He is due, to listen to His word and consent to be fed the Eucharist by Him, to worship Him worthily by frequent confession, and to praise Him at all times.

Myrrh is a strange gift for an infant; it is usually understood as a burial ointment. Surely this prefigures Jesus’ death, but it also symbolizes our own. In laying this gift before Jesus we are saying, “My life is yours. I want to die so that you may live your life in me. May you increase and may I decrease. Use me and my life as you will.”

As God called the Magi, so too, God calls the entire world to “do Him homage”. Like the Magi, we are invited by the newborn King to come and to “prostrate” ourselves before Jesus and do Him homage. We too are invited to fall down in worship and adore Him bringing the gift of our very lives.

Today is a perfect day to remember the “stars” in your life through whom God called you. May you “shine like the stars” that others may come to Our Lord and experience the love of God.