This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. In today’s Gospel, Magi from the East arrive in Jerusalem seeking the newborn King of the Jews whose star they saw at its rising. Instead, they encounter Herod; they tell him they want to pay homage to this new King. Herod, who is unsettled by this news, tells them, when they find this newborn King, to return and let him know where he is. As the Magi leave, the star precedes them, and they follow it all the way to the place where Jesus lay. When they arrive, they prostrate themselves, give homage, and present Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Before they depart, the Magi are warned in a dream not to return to Herod. We often refer to the Magi as wise men even though Scriptures do not use that expression. However, these travelers from the East were indeed wise. Of all the stars in the sky, they chose the right one to follow. They, who were schooled in worldly wisdom and equipped with worldly resources, sought ultimate truth and abundant life. What could be wiser in the whole world than seeking the Lord Jesus, meeting him face to face, paying homage to him, and honoring him with gifts, representative of their lives? The Magi were also wise because they “saw through” Herod, and did not return to see him. They realized he had no intention of meeting the newborn King other than to get rid of him and destroy him. We might ask ourselves today what stars we follow, and what dreams we dream. Whom do we seek above all, to whom do we pay homage, whom do we honor, and what dreams do we take seriously? The Magi challenge us to ongoing conversion and contemplation. What course shall we take this Jubilee Year of Mercy? How will Christ the Light lead us to be instruments of God’s unfailing love and mercy?
Traditionally, the names given to the Magi, or wise men, were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Many people have the custom of celebrating Epiphany in their homes, schools, or places of worship, by taking white chalk and marking the doorways with the year and initials of the Magi with crosses between them. This year the marking would be as follows: 20+C+M+B+16. The initials, CMB, besides standing for the names of the Magi, represent a Latin phrase: Christus mansionem benedicat. Translated into English, this means: May Christ bless this house. Perhaps you might like to begin this custom in your homes if you have not already done so.
The next make-up session for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who have not attended the required session with Father Jim will take place on Saturday, January 23. It will be held in Saint John Paul II Parish Church from 1:00 – 2:30 PM. Remember, if you wish to continue your ministry to the sick, the hospitalized, and homebound, or if you wish to continue to be scheduled as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for Mass, you must attend this session in order to be deputed by Bishop Cistone and commissioned for this ministry for the next three years.
Speaking of those who are involved in ministry to the sick and the homebound, Father Jim will be presenting a workshop called Accompanying and Praying with the Sick and the Dying. It will take place at the Center for Ministry on Saturday, January 16, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. The cost is $35.00 and includes lunch. Deadline for registration is: Saturday, January 9. I highly recommend this workshop and encourage you to attend. For more information, please call the Center for Ministry or Sister Chris. We do have some registration forms available in the Parish Office.
If your family or household did not receive the Christmas gift, the book entitled The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis, we do have some extra copies. After this Sunday, extras will be available at the Parish Office Center (755-0828). Please contact Amy Dupuis if you would like a copy. If you wish to take part in the book discussion group, the first session takes place Monday, January 11, beginning at 6:30 PM in the Library at the Parish Office Center. Come to any or all of the sessions as you are able.
Blessings this Christmas Season!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ