by Fr Joachim Robert
Theme: Christ is Manifested in the Whole World
The Feast of the Epiphany is a reminder of the manifestation of God’s goodness or the love of God towards the gentile nations. And it is a celebration of Jesus being made known to the world and the story of God’s love for humanity. The celebration of Christmas is a celebration of the incarnation of Jesus coming into the world. And today we celebrate in this Feast of the Epiphany the manifestation where He is made known.
And as we look, like the three wise men who goes in search of God, who goes in search and set themselves on this journey to find Jesus, our journey of our Christian discipleship, dear friends, is a journey we take in seeking God and encountering God.
And as we look at our own journey of life, especially in the past year or so, when we were caught up with so many situations, especially in 2022 and before, where we have been finding ourselves in this pandemic where the world seemed to be hopeless, helpless and perhaps in darkness. But we have come to realise that even in those moments, dear friends, in those dark moments, like the Prophet Isaiah says in the First Reading:-
In those moments, arise, shine out, Jerusalem, for the light has come. The glory of the Lord is rising on you.
And this passage of scripture, dear friends, from Isaiah is written when Jerusalem was in ruins. And as the people were coming back, Isaiah prophesies this message of hope, this message of a new restoration that something good will emerge from Jerusalem.
And you and I, dear friends, need to embrace this hopeful call for us to restore our lives in God. And as we look at our own journey, perhaps in our spiritual dryness, with our own financial difficulties, with our own obstacles and challenges of life that we have been going through, we must come to realise that the hope in God does not fade away. The hope in God does not cloud the way that we look at the future because when we are confronted with situations of darkness, like the Prophet Isaiah’s time, we know that God will be there together with us.
And many of us seek God, find God in so many different ways. And in the Gospel we are told that the three wise men were seeking, seeking from their own understanding of who God is in their lives. And they may not have known who God is but they knew that there were something beyond their studies, something beyond their experiences that led them to a deeper search for God.
And you and I, dear friends, with the restless situations that we have, when we are confronted with our own obstacles and challenges of life, we must take heed from the three wise men. Even though they have the knowledge, information, the wisdom, they know that there is something beyond their studies, something beyond that they need to submit themselves to. And God used the wisdom, the knowledge that they gained to seek them and to allow them to find Him in Bethlehem.
And like the three wise men who set out on that journey, we too must set ourselves on that journey to seek God in whatever circumstances and situations of life. Because only when we seek the Lord with sincerity of heart, dear friends, are we able to find Jesus lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes.
And we see the response of those wise men as they come they face obstacles with Herod, not being able to pass through because of the distractions that has come along the way.
In our search for God, dear friends, we would always be distractions that leads us away from that encounter of that child in the manger. But are we willing to follow the star, guided by the Lord, or do we allow the distractions to cloud our way and remove the focus that we have in following that guiding star.
And sometimes God sends angels, God sends people, God sends situations, events of life to lead us towards a deeper encounter of God. And those are guiding stars which leads us to an encounter. And that encounter allow us to remove our blindness, to see with greater clarity, to see with greater insight of where the Lord is calling and inviting us. Because if we encounter the Lord in the way, like the three wise men, we bring our offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh, we open our treasures and we offer them to the Lord.
And like the three wise men, I would like to ask you, dear friends, as we approach the Lord on this Feast of the Epiphany, what is the gift that we are bringing towards Jesus? How are we offering our five loaves and two fish to the Lord? Because very often we bring our gifts, our treasures but we close them very tightly, not wanting to allow the submission to the will and the plan of God. And we must remember that if we don’t allow ourselves to open that treasure and give them towards Jesus, then we will be unable to see what His plan holds for us.
Because when we find Jesus, dear friends, we not only find Him, we also find our true self in Him. Because the Lord continues to allow us to become the best person that He wants us to be. Because in Him, we find our identity, in Him we find our goodness.
And let us ask ourselves once again what is the gift that we want to offer to the Lord today?
And the other image that caught my attention today is the guidance of a star. Very often in our lives, dear friends, we follow many, many stars in our lives. And some stars, they distract us like Herod. Some stars distract us from encountering the Lord, perhaps our career, perhaps our own problems in our relationships, perhaps our own ideology of certain things, perhaps our own projects that distracts us from encountering the Lord. And we must come to this deeper realisation that these distractions also give us a greater clarity to find, to discern and to acknowledge that where is God in those moments.
And because of that encounter with Herod, the three wise men set their course to find Jesus with even greater fervour and after that we see them going on a different path.
And you and I, dear friends, are called to seek that guiding star in our lives. Those guiding stars who lead us to have a deeper encounter and sometimes we need to realise, dear friends, those stars that leads us towards that child in a manger is a star that guides us. It is not the encounter.
The encounter comes when we are before the Lord. The encounter comes when we are in front of the child in a manger and we see the response of the three wise men when they have come to see Jesus. Falling on their knees they did Him homage and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
And today we are invited, dear friends, to submit ourselves to the will and the plan of God in our lives. Only when we allow the encounter of God to speak to us, to teach us, to mold us, to give us a greater sense of mission and purpose in our lives, then we are able to understand our mission and our purpose with greater clarity.
And like the three wise men who came to encounter God but in a dream they were warned not to go back to Herod but to return to their country by a different way. And you and I, dear friends, as we take a re-look at our own self, we need to ask ourselves where is the Lord leading us. Are we going to take the same path back to Herod? Or are we going to allow the work of God to shape us, to mold us and take us on a different path with deeper conviction of faith, with deeper intimacy with God, with a deeper relationship, allowing Him to lead our way?
And what is interesting as well, dear friends, is to see that after that encounter with Jesus, there is no mention of the star anymore. Because they have encountered the Lord and they were warned in a dream to go back on a different path. And the Lord invites us today, dear friends, as we come to encounter the Lord at the Eucharist. What is the direction of life that we like to take with the Lord?
And today as well as we come together as a Parish, we come together with the whole PPC of 2023 towards 2025. And this evening from 2-6pm, we will be having this discernment, the discernment to see where are the plan of God for our Parish, where is the plan of God in our own lives, where the plan of God is for this community and we, as we seek all our resources, as we look at our own self, as we look at the leaders together, discerning, asking the Lord by the guidance of a star, with all our projects, with all our plans for 2023, we will seek and ask the Lord where is He leading us.
Is our people coming to a deeper encounter of God and do we submit ourselves in humility, acknowledging that the plan of God is greater than our own plans and our own mission?
And we pray, dear friends, that as we take this step, embarking on this new journey, a new course that we take, we pray that God will continue to be together with us, accompanying us on this journey of hope, like the three wise men who comes to seek Him, falling on their knees, prostrating themselves, opening up their treasures and allowing the Lord to lead them on a mission.
And we pray that each one of us may continue to allow ourselves, to submit ourselves to the will and the plan of God in total obedience, in trust and in faith.
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