Saturday, January 03, 2015

And This is Why I Love Epiphany

God frequently seems to use the liturgy and liturgical feasts to teach me personal things. Sometimes the nature of how this works is that something significant will happen in conjunction with a liturgical celebration of a feast day, but the significance of it will only dawn on me several years down the road. My initial conversion to Catholicism at a Christmas Eve midnight Mass is the most obvious example.

And another such thing is connected to the Epiphany.

The liturgy of the hours for Epiphany preserves the tradition that it has, in the past, encompassed the Visit of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus, and the Wedding at Cana: the Illuminatio, Manifestatio, and Declaratio. The message is clear: Jesus is on the scene with power and He's changing things.

It took me quite a long time to realize how that applied to this thing that happened to me six years ago tomorrow, on Epiphany Sunday.

That would have been one of those moments that if I had been able to see into the future, I probably would have turned and run away as fast as I could.

I'm glad I didn't. I think.

No, no: I'm sure. And I have the scars to prove it. 

It had been a quiet life for Jesus, Mary and Joseph (as long has he lasted) until the time of Jesus' public manifestation and His first miracle. I can only imagine Mary's heart at the moment when she knew it was time for Him to move on. We make a lot of her request that moved Him to His first public miracle. I'm convinced it was not a giddy moment for her, but one of surrender to the Father. Her statement "Do whatever He tells you," besides the other volumes it speaks, I believe was her fiat to the Messiah's mission which any student of the prophecies must have known would lead to His death.

The rest of us see these glory moments and think Cool! Dude, I want in on this! She realizes that the glory of God comes at the price of suffering and death. Which hearkens back to celebrating martyrs right smack after Christmas Day. Did the Church make some awful blunder in scheduling St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents? Of course not. We make the blunder in forgetting that Christmas flows into Epiphany which flows into Lent which flows into Holy Week, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. Jesus' birth is the beginning of the pascal mystery.

Christmas is often presented as a sugar-coated fairy tale. But God is born into a world where there is also a great deal of suffering and misery. -- Pope Francis 

And God came to live that suffering and misery with us, as one of us.

And, you know, in my book, when there's suffering and misery and God shows up, that suffering and misery suddenly get changed. Where God is, there is delight. Even when the glory points to a cross, which points to glory.

Funny. Seems like I wandered far away from the purpose I started writing with, which was to remember that Epiphany six years ago when God used the liturgy to show me something I didn't understand yet.

But this is how it works. And that's all I've been talking about.

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