Jan 6th The Epiphany of the Lord B

Introduction:

Today we finish the Christmas period of feasting with the feast of the Epiphany or little Christmas as we knew it in Ireland, Nollaig na mBan. On that day all the women who’d done the work over Christmas sat down and men served. We pray that we’ll all help in this way; we ask forgiveness for gender discrimination.

Homily

The wise men came from the east. That’s a timely reminder. For the sun rises in the East and shines on all people and gives life everywhere. So the coming of the wise men from the east denotes that Christ’s salvation is for all. The Old Testament prophesied that in the Messiah God’s salvation would reach earth’s ends. All people would be saved and reconciled with God, Jews or otherwise.

So all people are our brothers and sisters in Christ, all are saved by him, regardless of race or religion. The Tsunami a few years ago brought that home to me, our pitching in to help. The great debate the disaster threw up was why does God allow such things? One answer is that God doesn’t ordinarily interfere with nature’s functioning, if he did we’d be manipulated puppets, not free human beings. But it doesn’t follow that God doesn’t care. Christ didn’t accept sickness, or disease but worked to heal the afflicted everywhere he went. Affliction he said was from the evil one, part of the fallen world he came to redeem. He shared our sufferings on the cross to show God loves us and cares and is with us in the task of healing all his children everywhere in the world. For though suffering’s inescapable in a free fallen world, it can be alleviated by our love and care. Christ came to be with us in that work. The wise men came to Him from afar, our task is to bring salvation to all even those near and far away alike.

So I’m sure he’s proud when we respond generously to world disasters. For he has no hands now. We’re his healing hands now, reaching out to help everyone afflicted by tragedy. Modern medicine is one aspect of this practical redemption. So is the advance of science which can foretell and avert earthquakes. And technology, helicopters and such that get help quickly to the needy. This is God’s work and we must be with it wholeheartedly. But in an increasingly global village rich countries must give more. That’s the larger lesson of disasters. A UN person said on TV the other night; we rush to help Sunami victims but ignore larger problems in the Congo etc. Christian aid agencies work heroicly in these areas, we must pressurize the EEC and other world powers to do likewise. For its God’s will that prosperity should come to all earth’s peoples. Earth’s resources, the UN says could feed 35 times our present world population. The problem is unequal distribution of wealth, the rich first world gobbles up so much there’s little for the rest. For every euro we give in aid we take out 9 in repayments to first world banks.

The wise men who came to Christ were doctors. They and us must share the medicine, education and prosperity that we have. For that’s the mission given to us by Christ, to heal a broken world. It was for that he was born and died, to show that God cares about human suffering, which includes spiritual poverty. The wise men represents all earth’s children coming into his saving arms and we pray that all will come to salvation in body and soul; God’s just universal kingdom come. For the shallow things of this world pass, but He’s lord of life, goodness, truth and salvation for our deep happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen.

As God’s own, blessed to be so and praying for the practical and spiritual redemption of the whole world, we profess our faith.

Prayers of the Faithful

For Our Holy Father and all the leaders of the churches, that they may reach out to all people with a message of help and healing both for this world’s ills and their eternal salvation.

For our civil leaders that they may help the practical and spiritual welfare of all the citizens and reach out generously with what aid they can to those in need abroad…

For our wonderful young people, that beyond personal wealth, power or fame, they may be conscious of their larger responsibility to God, their neighbor and people everywhere..

For the sick, the aged, the depressed, the lonely and those without the saving faith, that through our care of body and soul they may come to fullness of life both here and hereafter..

For ourselves that we may be conscious of welcoming all people as our brothers and sisters in Christ, and deepen our own faith, hope and charity for the good of our children and neighbors..

For the dead who have passed from the cares of this world that they may come safely to their heavenly especially all our loved ones and all our sisters and brothers in the parish who have passed away recently or whose anniversaries occur at this time.

And we ask all these our prayers through Christ who is universal Savior and Lord in every way, forever and ever, amen.

Reflection:

A good example of the saving grace of Christ is the story of the leper priest Fr.Damian. He went to live with a leper colony off the coast when no one would care for, or pastor that flock. One morning, washing his feet in hot water, he realized he could feel nothing. He had become a leper. He went out onto the altar and prayed “we lepers”. He lived Christ’s practical and spiritual mission to the needy as all of us should, we pray to Mother Mary for similar courage ..Hail Mary

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