The Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord. We are reminded of the event in Bethlehem where the revelation of the Infant Child to the wise men symbolises the manifestation of Christ to the Gentile world. Epiphany is the calling of not merely a chosen few but all people towards God. Today, the Vatican is this star, its glow cast across the world, the Church of Christ known to all peoples. Yet. How is this manifestation significant to our faith practices and relevant to our life today?
Today there are many people, who Christ has already been manifested to, but who find themselves in a state of disconnect. These are people we know, family, friends, colleagues and very possibly even ourselves. We have all accepted Christ and were baptised but find ourselves struggling for relevance of our Christian faith in our life today. We struggle to connect with the beliefs and teachings of Christ. Many have stopped practicing, without a prayer life, and are no longer worshipping in Church. And even for some who remain in the pews, there is this struggle to connect.
This has resulted in a church present in every facet of life as we know today. If we dwell on this, the church through the baptised is present in every thought and way of life. To put a positive spin, Christians are present everywhere, regardless practising, or non-practising, even in the darker areas of life. They lie dormant, maybe waiting for some form of re-manifestation.
I am a strong proponent of the concept of the New Evangelisation. Saint John-Paul II, then Pope in the 1980s brought on this need to re-evangelise ‘internally’, to those who already have been baptised. The concept calls for us “to re-propose the Gospel” to those who already believe but are perhaps disconnected due to our culture of change. It calls for a new ardour, new methods, and new expressions to re-evangelise. This is perhaps a more urgent need for us today: the need to re-manifest Christ to ourselves.
The wise men in today’s Gospel went back via a different route after encountering the light of Christ. We are the laity, lay people present in every facet, in thoughts and deeds, of the world today. Epiphany encourages us to radiate the light of Christ in the darkness of our own world, to be stars, in new, maybe unexpected ways. We are responsible to simplify the many complexities of faith by breaking down the teachings and the ‘cheem’ homilies into practical examples and experiences in everyday life. Re- manifestation for us as lay people is to become practical examples of the Gospel by making things simple and keeping them simple so that more people can connect.
“This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.” (Second Reading)
Every baptised person is still part of the same body. Regardless of the state of connect, every person is still part of the same church sharing the same promise and inheritance. Those away from worship are the ‘Gentiles’ of today. They are out there, undoubtedly as a mystery yet to be revealed. Time will come when they are re-manifested. As lay people, we hold that light for them. Epiphany is a call to this mission.
Solemnity of The Epiphany of Our Lord