Feast of the Epiphany readings: Isaiah http://www.usccb.org/bible/isaiah/60:1 60: 1-6; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
With today’s feast, the Epiphany of the Lord, and the next Sunday’s, the Baptism of Our Lord, plus the Wedding Feast at Cana, we witness the three events in the life of Christ that prefigure his divinity.
As Fr. Bernard Strasser, OSB, said, “The Epiphany is the high point of Christmas and the fulfillment of Advent. It is the ancient Feast of Christ the King… If the Feast of Epiphany is to be fully understood as the Church sees it, it will have to be viewed from two aspects: That of God who manifested Himself to man, and that of man, typified in the Magi, who responded with wholehearted faith and love.”
The Epiphany is a privileged moment of the meeting point between God and man; God manifests and man responds.
In the first Epiphany, the glory and light of Christ as Lord and Savior is revealed to all humanity, and this is the grace we remember and bring to life in our celebration.
The first Epiphany gives us the graces to make meaning out of our search. This is the story of the Three Kings or Magi. Guided by the star, they search for the child, and in finding him they offer their treasures.
Guided by our dreams, we, too, search and find rest in Christ: “My heart is restless until it rests in thee alone.”
Mark Twain wrote: “The two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you find out why.”
Our Christmas is the day of our birth; the epiphanies of our life are the seconds, the minutes, the hours that lead us to the day we find out the “why” of our life.
‘The passion to be’
The first person is someone I had known for close to 20 years. I saw him as a young man in high school. A year ago we caught up with each other for a project.
By this time, almost two decades later, he is a big name, extremely successful in his field and highly respected in the advocacies of nongovernment organizations.
He has established himself so credibly that he was appointed commissioner-at-large by the National Youth Commission.
Asked what has guided him, he replied it was his class motto, “The Passion to Be.”
That moment has served as reminder that as a teacher and as priest, I have to help people, in the words of Fr. Frank Reilly, SJ, in a 1980 note, “to discover Christ in their life.”
Such discoveries happen in unexpected epiphanies, in conversations such as this with the young man; in waking up in the morning of a new day; in the beauty of a sunset or sunrise—to behold the world filled with “the grandeur of God”; in a child running and playing.
Almost a year later, I was in conversation again with this young man. This time it was to prepare him for his wedding. He and his fiancee make a lovely couple.
We framed their marriage as part of God’s plan, and we started to talk about mission.
Then the young man paused and pointed out that he just realized he had the same shirt he was wearing when we first talked about his inspiration.
He humbly accepted he was being led to mission in the unfolding of events in his life. The beauty of it is discovering that his marriage is part of the flow and plan of God’s mission for him and his fiancee.
The second person is very spiritual, and despite his mastery and brilliance in his field, there was a restlessness in his heart.
This was a constant feedback I got from people we met with. So, one time, in a relaxed conversation, I told him his mission was to be a witness to God’s goodness.
He tried to jot down what I said, and his body started to curl up like a child in the womb, and his face shone with the sparkle of someone discovering pure joy.
The second experience of epiphany with him came months later. I was telling him of a plan to put up a spiritual community, inspired by the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the penultimate Resurrection narrative in Luke.
At first he caught my excitement as I told him the story, but soon his own rhythm and inspiration “overtook” mine, and in a moment of epiphany, he said, again like a child figuring out a riddle and discovering pure joy, that it was the same Gospel story that inspired him as a young man, in high school, that made him realize he was being called to a mission by God.
The chance to say ‘yes’
Dingdong Dantes’ journey has been inspired by a high school realization that a life worth living is one that is pursued with “The Passion to Be,” guiding him in his work and career; discovering his love for Marian; sensing his authentic mission in life and opening himself, his life and their life as husband and wife, to this mission.
Piolo Pascual’s brilliance and presence as an actor, singer and producer is overshadowed only by his goodness that shines through; returning to his childlike faith and sense that God calls him to mission; always going back home to that moment when Christ leads him back to: “Were not our hearts burning inside us?”
These are epiphanies of two men who have been and continue to be on the center stage of their respective careers. This seems to be the least ideal place we think of as seedbeds of epiphanies.
Yet their stories and journeys show us that epiphanies do happen.
Whoever we are, wherever we are, it is the longing and the desire, the dream and the hope that, in our life, there is a God-given meaning and mission that lead us to our epiphanies, and give us the chance to say “yes.”