In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/01/09 at 12:00 AM

The Feast of the Epiphany calls forth many familiar Scriptural images: the searching Magi from the East upon their camels and dromedaries; the infant Jesus hidden still with Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem; the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; and of course the brilliant star that made this unlikely gathering of Messiah and Magi possible.
At first glance our Gospel story today may sound like a rather odd but pleasant encounter in the early days of our Lord’s life on earth.
But in faith we know that this encounter between the Wise Men and Wisdom Itself was no chance encounter, nor was it an expedition of whim or a flight of fancy by the Magi.
This meeting that we celebrate with our liturgy today was part of the Father’s greater plan for the salvation of all mankind.
Two weeks ago today we celebrated the birth of our God in human form. For the past two weeks of this lovely Christmas Season we have continued celebrating the fact that the Word was made flesh and has dwelt among us.
During this Christmas Season we have meditated upon the Eternal Word of the Father, born in time, born of Mary ever-Virgin, as He remained hidden in Bethlehem.
But today the virgin-born Son of God is acknowledged by the whole world in the persons of the Magi. Today the mysterious presence of God-made-man, the Messiah, is hidden no longer but rather manifested to all humanity, Jew and Gentile alike.
In a sense, this manifestation of His divine kingship is the warning shot by our now-human Lord in His fight against satan and the demonic minions, the fight for the souls of all men.
Today the Lord says: “I have come to rescue fallen man from the clutches of evil, and I will not remain silent forever. For soon I will begin to extend my gentle kingship of love and truth and mercy upon all of mankind so that may see and know that there is indeed a light shining in the darkness, a light that the darkness cannot overcome.”
And like a venomous snake cornered, the evil one – in a rage that knows no bounds – seeks to destroy the Christ Child through the wicked Herod, a rage that ends the lives of so many young children whom we now call the Holy Innocents.
So you see, my dear brothers and sisters, today’s feast of the Epiphany really sets the stage for the larger battle that is yet to come. Today Jesus is revealed as God, a revelation that we see repeated in His baptism and at the wedding feast of Cana – two other mysteries often associated with Epiphany.
But once Jesus is revealed, we will see this most important battle really take shape as we enter into Lent. The evil one will try with all his might to destroy our Lord – from the moment he tempts Jesus in the desert until our Lord’s death on the cross.
While the readings of the early days of Holy Week seemingly paint the picture of evil gaining the upper hand, we know by faith that all that happens to our Lord in His passion and death are but necessary tactical moves toward the glorious victory of Easter.
Yet while our Lord is indeed victorious over sin and death in the glory of His resurrection, each of us must personally fight against evil. For while our original sin is forgiven, its effects linger within us still, leading us into personal sin.
As long as we live on this earth, we – like our Lord – must be willing to fight for the salvation of souls: our own and others as well. In other words, even though the battle has already been won, we must choose sides in this great cosmic battle between good and evil.
Sacramentally, we make this choice of sides at our baptism. Baptism enlists us, as it were, in the great army of the Church militant, and we make the promise to live for Christ – dying with Him the death of sin so that we might rise with Him in His resurrection.
Through the continued reception of the sacraments, we are strengthened for battle and our wounds are mended and healed. Through the sacraments, especially Holy Communion, we are also given a foretaste of the victory that shall be ours if we only but persevere to the end.
Alas, how many of us have abandoned our Lord’s army? How many of us have been seduced away from a true adherence to our Catholic faith by the mammon of this world?
Carried away by our lusts and passions, how many of us live habitually in a state of mortal sin – all the while pacifying ourselves with the bold-faced lie that we can disobey the Church’s serious moral teachings and still remain in God’s good graces?
My dear children, this must not be. This must not be the case for any of us. We must not let the evil one get the better of us, nor must we allow our loved ones to be poisoned by him and wrapped in his webs of sin and vice.
If we have been baptized, we have been marked for Christ! We belong to Him and His Kingdom – and He belongs to us! In His goodness, Jesus constantly gives Himself and His mercy and forgiveness to us through the sacraments.
We need only be humble enough to accept His grace that enables us to do His will, and strong enough to call upon His mercy whenever we fail. Moreover, we must be courageous enough to share the truth of our Catholic faith with others so they might be saved.
We must be courageous enough to gently correct those who have strayed from the narrow path that alone leads to Heaven.
Today’s feast reminds us of God’s goodness and His desire for all men to be saved. Like the magi of old, may we search Him out with diligence so that salvation may be ours.
Instead of a gift of gold, let us give to Him our undying love that pours itself out in a generous love for our neighbor. Instead of sweet-smelling frankincense, let us devote ourselves to our Lord in prayer.
And instead myrrh, which was used to anoint a body for burial, let us present to our Lord our sufferings endured out of love for Him and in union with Him.
May we be willing to fight the battle against personal sin and evil so that God may be glorified by our very lives.
May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever. Amen.
9 January 2012
© Reverend Timothy Reid Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC You can go directly to his homilies: http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61


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