“Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)
There are so many lights out in the world that distract us. So many things that try to draw our attention. I think of the last time that I was in Times Square in New York which used to be a collection of billboards but has become a collection of frenetic video boards that cause an all out assault on the senses. What are they announcing? Broadway shows, movies, television shows, ads for clothing, destinations, etc. All these lights point to something that will apparently make us happy. Yet only one light does. 2000 years ago one particular light, one particular star caught the attention of three Magi from the East and they followed it. That star ended up leading them to the child Jesus. That star called them to journey to a strange land, encounter strange (and evil) characters in order to rightfully pay homage to the newborn king. Today we celebrate the manifestation of the light and salvation of Christ to all nations. No longer was it reserved to just Israel. We are all now the beneficiaries of this love, and his star shines on us all.
Yet going back to the Times Square analogy, so many lights distract us. To use another comparison, light can obscure light. For example, we cannot behold the total beauty of a star-filled night sky because the city lights obscure all but a few stars. In our spiritual life, so many things come disguised as light but lead us further into darkness. If sin did not come disguised as light, and let us not forget that Satan used to be the angel of light, then we would not commit sin. But we do, and thus we stop following the Christmas star that leads us to Jesus. We do not allow the light of Christ that we received in baptism to shine in our hearts and thus shine before others. If Epiphany means manifestation then the challenge of this day is for us to become living epiphanies, living manifestations of Christ’s light and love for others. Let me explain.
I came across this brilliant quote in our bulletin the other day among some of the “filler” that we often use that is sent to us by our bulletin company. It said: “Many people have no inkling of the beauty and urgency of God’s call. Only through our lives and convictions will this call be revealed.” The star called the Magi from the East to leave what was familiar to them and to search out the newborn king. The star calls us to abandon our familiar ways and recognize the beauty and urgency of God’s call. The world that wanders in darkness urgently needs to see this light shining in us. “The Eucharist enables us to be God’s epiphany. The Eucharist sends us forth to proclaim the news and bring others in this unity.” Here at this altar we become Christ-like because we receive Christ. We become God’s epiphany because we are called to go and manifest his light and his love to the world. Today we must recognize the urgency of this call and the need to focus on the light of Christ and not on the other lights that are trying to capture our attention. Christ’s marvelous light shines in you. You can’t hide it. We must have the conviction to share that light with others. This is our urgent call. If not you, whom? If not now, when?