Happy New Year! And let us still greet each other with Happy Christmas…
joy has come into the world! Today, that JOY is revealed publicly.
EPIPHANY means to reveal or to make something visible.
In another sense it means: WE suddenly see something clearly for the first time.
In the first reading and the Gospel, there are themes of light breaking into the darkness,
to bring new understanding, to lead people in the right direction.
The shepherds & wise men in the Gospels followed the star that God provided. There are still many “stars” guiding us to the truth: but we need to see the world through the eyes of Christ.
This week, on our youth WhatsApp group, I was happy to receive a short video which I will summarise briefly.
- There is a small business lady running a roadside eating place: no walls, just a shelter. She has two customers and a lady washing dishes. A street-man comes begging for food from the woman washing up: most people realise he’s mad.
- The washing lady asks the business woman if they can give him some food. But she loses her temper and sends the lady back to work, and says “no food” amongst many other sad and selfish/rude things. Basically summed up by saying:
“what use is a mad man to anyone? They can’t even remember what help you give them!”
- A man at the eatery offered to pay for the man to get some food. But she refused. A few days later she’s intercepted by 2 men as she walked from home to town: they steal her phone and started going through her handbag. The “mad-man” of the other day heard her screams and came running to scare the men away and recover the phone.
As he hands the business woman her phone, the expression on her face is just amazing: she “sees” the madman differently, and she recognises her own selfishness and lack of compassion.
The Epiphany reminds us that God wants to bring light into our darkness,
peace into our confusion, joy into our sadness and love into our feelings of inadequacy.
The small business woman in the story above was “grumpy”, stressed and lacked compassion (because she was too busy trying to survive). She was not a bad lady, just someone totally occupied surviving each day. However, when we live like that we are never really happy.
When we have compassion for others it opens up new possibilities in the world.
The street man who helped the business lady didn’t show much emotion, but he certainly transformed the lady who had an “epiphany” moment.
The readings today encourage us, and challenge us:
1) encouragement: that God brings light into our lives through the person of Jesus.
2) Challenging: that we are called to be that light for others, and see that light in others.
Fr Henri Nouwen, a great Spiritual Writer 25 years ago, said:
“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”
By Gerard Conlan, OMI