Gospel Thoughts 2 January 2011, Epiphany

December 31, 2010 at 14:14 Leave a comment

Today’s Gospel Story for the Feast of Epiphany (Matthew 2:1-12) is the Magi and their journey. The Opening Prayer suggests a context for the Story in our own life: “Today you reveal to men of faith . . . draw us beyond the limits this world imposes to the life where your Spirit makes all life complete”.

Each of us is on a journey from God, with God, to God. As we become aware of this, we also become aware of the richness of life. To be a person of faith is not just to believe all the right answers to all the right questions, or to have some sort of a theoretical knowledge of what to do in every situation. Faith is not a head trip. To be a person of faith is, among other things, to do our best to live open to an ever-deepening relationship with God who creates us by sharing his life with us, open to however God chooses to be present in whatever is going on in our life, and rather than simply accepting whatever comes our way, dealing with it as best we can, making full use of the gifts God gives us. This is not passive acceptance, but a call to action. Our contribution to all this is our own life of prayer, both public and private (our personal prayer practice or discipline, whatever it may be). When we are aware that we are on a journey, we also sense that it is not an easy one. From time to time our understanding of God changes, and this change might be threatening because, whatever our notion of God may be, we have become comfortable with it, and now we might have to let go of it in order to grow. It is easier and safer to hold on to what we know and are comfortable with than to move into the unknown.

As the Story suggests, we follow the light of God, of grace, and trust it is leading us to where we need to be for our relationship with God to grow and deepen. We might prefer not to grow, but to remain safe where we are, but nowhere does Jesus call us to be safe. He is pretty insistent on telling us to take up our cross and follow him, and this is exactly where our journey might lead us. The light might show us some things we would prefer not to see, because on seeing them we might have to make some serious and difficult choices, while we would prefer to remain safe and comfortable.  We have to take responsibility for our journey and our willingness to be open to grace, and no one can do this for us. We may have to learn to think, and this, too, can be a threat to us and to others, since it is easier passively to accept what is handed to us than prayerfully and with serious study make our own decisions, going wherever this takes us.

Our tradition points us to a relationship with Christ that is lived out in our relationships with each other, and is much more than simply following rules. In the Story the Spirit guides the Magi to return to their home by another route. On our journey as we grow, we might return to our daily lives with a new sense of context and purpose, becoming more concerned with our own growth and fidelity to grace than with telling others how they should live their journey. Our prayer and attempts to live in openness to grace might move us to change how we think, and this can be unsettling to us and to others.

Wherever we are God leads us forward, drawing us beyond the limits we impose on ourselves and our efforts to be in control. As we learn to trust in grace, we also come to know our journey is not by ourselves but with people, all of whom are good, and most of whom do not know it. Our journey is exciting, if not always pleasant, since often it takes us to where we would not of ourselves choose to be.




Entry filed under: Catholic, Gospel thoughts, Priest.

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