Christmas has come and gone and there is a definite shift of focus in our Sunday readings. The hushed tones of Bethlehem now shift to explosive manifestations about Jesus. The magi caused quite a stir with their arrival at Herod's palace and their questions about the "newborn king of the Jews." Isaiah proclaims the “Light” that has come. And at Jesus’ baptism, the voice from heaven announces, quite emphatically: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Epiphany awakens us today from any glow that might remain from our Christmas celebrations. There is plenty of darkness around us and it touches all of us. Yet, into this darkness comes the promise of Light.
In a culture that is increasingly more fragmented and torn apart, giving ourselves over into His hands, learning to "see" Christ as the Baptist saw Him, to find God in our daily lives and to truly live as a witness to Him is no easy feat. It is only when we acknowledge the touch of the Spirit and allow it to transform our lives that the words of Isaiah can become a concrete reality in this world - only then can we carry "the Light" to the nations and proclaim, "Behold the Lamb of God."
At the heart of the Gospel is the union of the divine and human in Jesus. Salvation is possible because the divine light has entered human life and, as a result, new life exists for us. Belief is the "light" that gives us entry into this new life.
It is difficult for us to be "lights" in our broken world. There is no “star in the East.” There is no voice from heaven, no visible parting of the heavens, no appearance of a dove — just the words of the Evangelist, of the prophet Isaiah and the example of the Baptist announcing the appearance of one whose life of forgiveness, compassion, and sacrifice plants the fingerprint of God’s transforming Spirit on this world.
One simple fact is very clear: the presence of Jesus cannot be contained or hidden. Just as we are called to sing out for joy with the Christmas angels, so also are we called to be His magi, and His star. We must make Him manifest. We must give witness to our faith in Him by our words and in our actions.
Each day of this New Year will give us an opportunity to celebrate life, to share love, to enkindle hope. It will provide new occasions for service to others, for compassion and understanding, for listening and learning. Each day will also bring a challenge to take what we have experienced and consciously work to complete His mission. We will be challenged to re-create the face of the earth into a world where all human life is always defended, where the poor and outcast are made welcome, where those held bound by sickness, disease or hatred are set free, and where all can come to know God's all-embracing love.
How we respond to this challenge is the measure by which we reflect his constant presence to the world and how the Good News of Salvation is spread throughout it. Only then will we be able to tear apart the barriers that separate us, and come together as the family that God meant us to be. Only then can we truly be a people of Light and Hope within whom the Spirit lives and breathes.