Homily for Solemnity Of The Epiphany
Everyone is familiar with Robo calls and most of us do not like them, although if you spend any time listening, every now and then there is one that is interesting. The same can be said for television commercials, most are boring, however, every now and then there is one that is clever and memorable. Such was the case for Motel 6 in the 1980s. The advertisement success came from its clever saying, "We'll leave the light on for you". We say that to children who still fear the dark or to adults who will be arriving home after we have gone to sleep for the night. In both cases, the light serves an essential purpose. We all live with two interconnected realities, the world and our place within it. We cannot have one without the other. That is what makes being lost or being in total darkness so truly frightening. For adults, a night light is a locator. You know where your bed lies and where the bathroom is. For a child, a night light serves an even greater purpose. It keeps the bedroom world in view and holds at bay the fears that darkness brings. However, both children and adults know that at least in our life, neither darkness nor light is a thing. One might say light fills the world with things and darkness takes them away. Epiphany is a feast of light, "the shining forth" of the newborn Christ. Here is a different way of thinking for you: Stop thinking of God as a person, hidden in some remote place in the world or in the heavens. Try to think of God as nothing more, or nothing less, than light itself. If "God is light", as Saint John said, then several insights become possible. First, we will stop looking for the place where God is hiding. Light is not something we can separate from our world, but we can never say that the light is hiding. It happened just as Isaiah said, "Your light has come, the glory of God shines upon you. Darkness covers the earth but upon you God shines, and over you appears God's glory". Whenever we gain new insight, the sort of thing that changes who we are, we have experienced something of God. We have been graced. We could even say that God is our insight, our minds light. God is that little light bulb that suddenly goes on in our mind and opens up our world. Jesus, of course, said it best. He is "the light of the world". Therefore, sin cannot be ignored by claiming that it has location within the world. Rather, sin is the word we use to describe a world filled with darkness. It is the world itself in need of its light.
"See darkness covers the earth,
and think clouds cover the peoples,
but upon you the Lord shines,
and over you appears His glory"
A person who does not believe in God might say that God is not the light of the world or even the light of our mind. But those of us who believe have not changed who God is. God never said, "I am some object hidden in the universe for us to find". Yet God likens Himself to light over 60 times in the scriptures. Because of what happened at Bethlehem and in Jerusalem, believers insist that light itself interacts with us. We truly believe that the intelligibility of the world, its light, is like that person who says "We'll leave the light on for you".
"Where is the newborn king of the jews?
We saw His star rising and we have come to do Him homage".
These Magi, these wise people, are not seeking the star as a physical object in space. They want to be illuminated by its meaning and not its glow. With the minds eyes, they do indeed follow the star, but only because it is calling to them. This same star that led the Magi to their epiphany still shines today. It called to them, and it calls to us.