Feast of The Epiphany of the Lord (3 Jan 2010)
: Gospel – Mt 2:1-12


" New Year 2010 – Be God's Peace to Others "


Preached by Fr Philip Heng, SJ at Church of St Ignatius – Singapore

In today’s Feast of the Epiphany, the Gospel that we just heard proclaimed manifests how the “infant king of the Jews” whom the three wise men from the East were searching for is in fact the King of kings, the Saviour and Prince of Peace of the world.

When Jesus was born into this world, the world was in a state of eager expectation;waiting for God and desiring for Him deeply in their hearts. It was to such a waiting world that the divine mystery of the birth of Jesus unveiled itself in the humble stable of Bethlehem. In this deeply profound scene, we find the shepherds - the poorest of the poor, the most ignorant and unkempt of the people of Israel kneeling and bowing in deep reverenceside by side with the rich and royal, wise men of the East; a striking contrast that captures the nature of the Good News that this divine infant is about to reveal to the whole world. The revelation that the Good News of salvation is for all peoples; there will be no favouritism; the rich and poor alike are all offered salvation.

As we ponder on the mystery of this scene, we also have to note that there is the missing figure of king Herod who was insanely insecure about everything that is happening. We can easily imagine him pacing up and down in his palace; filled with great anxiety and fear and fuming with anger that an infant king is to be born to undermine his madness for political control and power.

In all of these scenes, it is important that we too try to ponder onwhere we think we would find ourselves and whom we think we would probably associate with more closely in the scene? First, would we find ourselves with great humility in our hearts worshipping the infant Jesus like the shepherds? Second, would we see ourselves more likely to be with one of the three wise men worshipping Jesus and offering Him the precious gifts of ourselves in the way we live our daily lives? Third, perhaps, would we associate ourselves in some way with Herod who cannot allow the Truth of the Good News of the infant Jesus to disrupt and interfere with our lifestyles and plans in our life? Wherever we find ourselves in the scene and whoever we associatewith, only God and us would know as they arevery personal.

We are just beginning the year 2010 and I am sure all of us would have a common wish for this year to be filled with God’s abundant blessings, peace and happiness. However, we also all know that the reality of life can be very harsh to us regardless of our social rank, race or religion. The past year’s global financial and economic crisis, the calamities of our recent typhoon Ketsana and the earlier years of the Tsunami that killed 226,000 people, the Cyclone Nargis that claimed 140,000 lives, the Sichuan earthquake that killed 88,000 people, and the deadly virus threats of Sars, Avian flu and the new threats of H1N1 virus all show that all human beings are weak and vulnerable; we are all finite. Thus, and more importantly,we must all unite nationally and globally to live more responsible lives.

We can no longer speak of and think in terms of “my individual happiness,” but “our happiness;” more so when we claim to worship the infant Jesus who wants to bring peace as our Saviour, to the whole world. Our Christmas and Epiphany celebrations are not abstract liturgical worships that are removed from the reality of what are happening to our daily lives and the human race of the whole world. Thus, there is only one kind of “happiness” and that is “the happiness that brings a communal and universal peace of Christ to the entire human race.”

 

This concretely also mean that we cannot have our individual “happiness” at the expense of other people’s pain and unhappiness. For example, we cannot feel true peace of Christ in our hearts, if we are not able to see the need to give our domestic helpers a one day off from their work each week. We belong together as a community of human persons in the world, let alone ourselves being called by God to live as sons and daughters of God the Father.

For the true peace of Christ to become a reality this year, we each need to ask ourselves, “How am I to contribute to the peace of this world, beginning with myself? What is the God child in the manger, the Saviour of all peoples, urging me to do with my life this year?

Both the shepherds, the poorest of the poor in Israel were kneeling side by side at the stable with the three wise men of great intellect, wealth and power. Is God telling us that His peace of the infant child is offered not only to us privately? Every person who comes before God is equal in dignity and God’s universal peace wants to fill all our hearts this year 2010 regardless of our rank and race.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us, you and me make this year 2010 qualitatively different from last year and the previous years of our lives. Let us take a small step each day to be God’s light of peace in today’s world in our daily living.


'Epiphany': St. Francis and St. Aloysius bring the sick, people with AIDS, ...
to Our Lady of Guadalupe and the child Jesus

Like the three wise men, let us search for the True peace of Jesus daily and allow it to penetrate our hearts more deeply. Let us allow this True peace to over flow into the lives of other people, beginning with our family, our maids, our relatives, our neighbours, our parish and all the people who live in darkness and in pain in this world.

As Christ began His life in a stable and ended up on a Cross, we too have to know that to journey with Christ inevitably demands much sacrifice from us. The three wise men left the comforts of their homes and palaces in search of this True peace and Light of Christ. They each had to plan their journey painstakingly and expose themselves to the dangers of the desert in a foreign land knowingly. How serious and committed we are to our faith is seen is the actions of how willing are we to become selfless in our search for this True Peace of Christ in our life’s journey.

How much will our life change for the better and how much our faith in 2010 is going to grow is a decision we each have to make for ourselves. What we know for sure is that God will be waiting for us patiently and lovingly this year, as in all the previous years of our lives. God can prepare a great banquet for us and wait for us in the hall, longing for us to turn up, but whether we actually turn up or have chosen to detour into other attractions along the way is totally in our own hands.

If we turn up, we will certainly be nourished and blessed by the divine Peace, Truth and Love that He is offering us, but if we choose not to, then we would be letting the good opportunities of becoming God’s peace to others this year 2010 to slip by.Time is short and moving fast . . . let us learn from the wise men on this Feast of the Epiphany to have the zeal to pursue the Truth that God has planted in our hearts relentlessly.

When the three wise men found the infant Jesus, they offered him the very best of gifts; gold because He is the King of kings; the king of our lives; frankincense because He is the Perfect Priest and mediator of God and all people, and myrrhbecause He has come to save us through a life of suffering and finally death on the Cross, all for our sake and salvation.

Let us begin today, so that at the end of this year, we will be able to rejoice and thank God even more fully, that we have allowed His Holy Spirit of peace to penetrate our hearts and have been able to share the best of whatwe have in our lives with others, so that the True peace of Christ is shared and through us has brought light to our world of darkness and pain. When we are able to do this, we can then say that we have lived this year 2010 to the full by become God’s peace and light to others.


Fr Philip Heng, S.J.

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