|Epiphany of the Lord, 8 Jan 2017|
From the Dean's desk
Our reaction or response to any news that is given can vary according to the recipient. We can either be gladdened by the news and its contents or its contents may unsettle us, especially if it bad news. Or we can be indifferent to its contents altogether.
In this familiar scene of the Wise Men coming from the East to find and adore the Child challenges us to see that the Christmas story – the story concerning the birth of Jesus Christ – requires a response on our part. We note in this narrative that there are two responses. The Wise Men come in search of the Child – the infant king of the Jews, because they saw his star rising. Their response is one of wonderment and wanting to find out the source of this mystery: where is he? How can he enrich my life? Can I find him so that I may adore him?
On the other hand, we have the response of Herod. Upon hearing the news of this infant king, Matthew tells us that Herod and all of Jerusalem were perturbed. Herod recognised this child as a threat – an element that had to be removed, because it might usurp and herald the end of his realm. Why should the whole of Jerusalem be perturbed though? We need to recognise Herod for who he is. This is the man who ordered the murder of his mother and two sons because he saw them as threats. This is the man who had a handful of prominent Jewish people rounded up and jailed with orders to be killed upon his death, so as to ensure that at least some people would shed tears at his passing! This is the man who has John the Baptist imprisoned for speaking out about his marital situation and who, because he did not wish to renege on an oath sworn under drunkenness, had John beheaded at the whim of his wife We know the full extent of Herod’s wanting to find the Child – wishes to do away with him. This is the extent of his homage. In the passages that follow today’s Gospel we hear of the true response of Herod. Realising that he had been foiled by the Wise Men, he ordered the deaths of all the male children, two years and over. I his actions he did not realise that God had fooled him, since Joseph had taken the Child and his mother to Egypt.
The Wise Men finally discover the Child, present him with gifts and return home, not only by a different way, but also different people. Epiphany calls to mind that the Christ-Child belongs to all people and not just to a select few. It challenges us to ensure that we play our part in revealing this great mystery to all by word and deed. The presence of Herod in the story reminds us of the ever present dangers within our world that are trying hard to diminish and even extinguish the light of Christ. As members of the Body that makes up Christ’s Church, we need to ensure that our lives radiate the light of Christ.
This Epiphany reminds us that the message of the Christ Child is for the entire world. There is a danger that as we pack away the crib, its figures and structure, we may forget the real reason for this celebration. Jesus and his message may be easily left with the crib for yet another year. Francis of Assisi, the creator of the Crib, challenges us to be not only moved by the love of God in becoming one of us, but to be challenged to then take the Child and his message to the world, so that all may receive from this tremendous love. How am I moved and changed by this recent celebration of Christmas? In what ways will I be able to take the Child into the world? How will I be prepared to preach his message in word and deed throughout the year?
Fr Bob Bossini