Jesus Our Shepherd

Epiphany
04 January 2009

Homily
Fr. Bob Scanlan

When our children were young and we launched out on a family trip—a vacation perhaps in the summer---one of the children would ask when they were bored, “Are we there yet?” It seems like that question came when we had just begun the trip and had a long way to go before we “were there”. Today we are beginning another calendar year at JOS. We begin 2009 and once again it seems we begin our journey. As a country we will begin a new administration. Within families we will celebrate weddings, the birth of children, and the entrance into eternal life of some whose ministry on earth is completed. Perhaps we too will find ourselves asking the question, “Are we there yet?”

Today we hear in Matthew’s Gospel the story of the magi as they began their journey. Like us they were searching. Perhaps along the way they also asked, “Are we there yet?” We are all on a journey from time to eternity. It is a real tension for us. To be in time and on a journey means we must deal with change while many of us are looking for stability and the unchangeable. What will give us the stability we seek? What is it or who is it we can trust not to change? Material things are easily destroyed in natural disasters. Political parties change. Candidates change their views on issues confronting them. Financial markets change. As we journey along in life we realize that there simply is not a rock hard solid ground on which we can stand knowing there will be no change. We can not conceive a life that never changes.

But wait!! Just when we feel that so many aspects of our life are in the state of chaos we have the Epiphany of Jesus. Today’s feast reveals that God’s response to human yearning for unchangeable love is right before us. It is a message of hope in a time of despair. It is the manifestation that the love God has for each of us is given to us in the birth of Jesus. It is the manifestation that this gift of Jesus is not for a select group and followers but for all people of every time and place. This manifestation demands a response from us.

For Herod the coming of Jesus was a threat to his security and understanding of who he was. He may need to change his ways and he was not about to do so. For the magi Christ was the goal of a quest. They had journeyed long and hard. Many of us have journeyed long and hard. Many if not all of us are still on our journey. For many of us the presence of Christ in our lives challenges us. Perhaps we must be willing to give up what we had thought would provide us happiness and fill the void in our life. Like the magi we must be willing to continue on a quest without a clear idea of where it is leading us.

The first reading from Isaiah is to a community in exile. They were looking for stability. They needed a place that would never be taken from them. People were coming from East and West. They are coming on land and sea. Throngs of people streaming to Jerusalem. Ships from Tarshis, Kings from Midian. The people of Israel were looking for a physical place they could call home that would be there forever. What they were looking for was a spiritual place not a temporal place. They were on a journey like us.

As we begin this new year we are challenged to accept the Epiphany of Christ---to accept that it is Christ we are to follow---to accept that with Christ as the focal point in our life---we will reach our destination. It is accepting that fact that Christ is for all people of all time not just for those who think and feel the way we think and feel.

Like all of the mysteries that are part of the one mystery of God’s love the Epiphany of God-with-us is not limited to a particular time and place. Christ is always with us. Christ is always and everywhere being revealed to us often in hard to recognize ways and places.

When the magi reached Jesus they knew their journey was ended and they had arrived at their destination. Their journey had ended but another journey was just beginning.

When we see the Epiphany of God within each person;
When we see the Epiphany of God within all of creation;
When we see the Epiphany of God within all cultures;
When we see the Epiphany of God within everyone we meet,
It is at that time our eternal question of “Are we there yet?” will be answered. God will speak to us as God has spoken to people of all time and the question will be answered: “Yes you are there”