When we constantly seek attention…we fail to see God “out there”
I was informed this week by one of our many educated and intelligent youth, that by 2020 (this year!), depression will be the leading “killer” disease in our world. It seems crazy to think that, as we have now developed wonderful technology, opportunities to do many things, we are having more and more depressed people. Perhaps it’s because, slowly, the world is becoming like King Herod; just not quite as extreme! We need to be the centre of attention. Instead of making us happy, this drowns us after a short time. So we look for drugs, alcohol, sex or power to feed our need for love, which increases in proportion to the lack of love we give to others.
This week, just before the start of New Year’s Day, a new baby was born into the family of my friends, Pina and James. It is their first born child. They are, of course, overcome by joy, amazement, happiness and all the rest. For myself, as I viewed the pictures and reflected on the Feast of the Epiphany, I couldn’t help but see a reflection of God being revealed in our world once more. To make it more meaningful, James is Australian and Pina has a Kenyan mother and Italian father… a cluster of nations… kind of.
Today’s readings are amazing for the number of hidden meanings. The First Reading comes at a time in history when Israel had just returned from Exile with their minds opened to a reality beyond themselves.
The Second Reading reminds us that all peoples are part of the one body. It’s interesting to note how climate change is revealing that so clearly to us today: we are all in the same boat: when one country pollutes, it affects the whole world, to varying degrees. As St Paul says: “… ‘they’ are parts of the same body”.
There are too many hidden meanings to explain in detail but here is a brief summary of challenging connections that are worth noting:
- 1st R: The wealth of the nations will flow to you:
our prosperity depends on collaboration – closed in = death. And what is our wealth?
It’s the beauty and giftedness of people: not money which is only a tool.
- 1st R: Dromedaries (camels) of Midian and Ephah:
countries other than Israel will be welcomed by God. The Universal Mission of God is to invite and offer joy and salvation to all. This challenges us to also welcome those who are different from us – especially those in our own society.
- G: Bethlehem is a tiny little village of no importance, and yet it is the place chosen by God.
- G: The Kings are important people from outside of Israel:
do visitors remind us of what is special among us?
- G: The Kings offer the most valuable things they have:
what do we offer to God through our care for others?
- G: The Kings suffered hardship in order to find the Prince of Peace:
how much effort do we apply to find God?
- G: The Kings quoted the Bible to King Herod: but they are “pagans”:
how well do we know the Word of God?
Today’s opening prayer contains an interesting phase. I’m not sure whether anyone really listens to the prayers or whether priests read them in a way that makes them understandable and memorable. It says today: [us] “who know You [God] already by faith … may be brought to … your sublime glory.”
The Gospel challenges us in many ways; not least because many Christians only know God in passing and fail to recognise God in a deeper more personal way because it requires a bit of effort, a bit of humility to acknowledge others as being important and able to contribute.
How much of Herod is in each of us? Don’t we, also, like to be in control? It’s easy to criticise Herod, but are we courageous enough to recognise where we suppress others, shut others out, bad mouth others, to make ourselves more important?
Rather than lose power or authority, however, when we lift others up, when we give others opportunity to contribute, we all become richer, and our own joy increases because we have acted like God.
Today, as we thank God for revealing God to us, I pray we may be more courageous in giving others an opportunity to contribute, so that we may see God revealed “more often” in our own lives. When we see God-with-us [Emmanuel], we will never be depressed!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI