Fr. Kevin’s Column 1/3/2021

Dear friends of God,

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Of course, we are also in the midst of beginning a new year. I never want to rush time, but this year might be an exception to that desire to be in the present moment. The year 2020 has been like no other for all of us. It is my hope that each of us learned to pray in a new way during the last year. I know for myself, I have been enriched by the time of solitude. I needed to be drawn in to deeper prayer to offset the challenges and anxiety that COVID-19 created for so many of us. Twenty-twenty was a year to remember that Jesus is Emmanuel: God with us. As I said on the fourth Sunday of Advent, when sharing a quote that I recently came across:

God with us.

Not God against us. Not God apart from us.

Not God apathetic towards us. God with us.

God is always with us in the present moment whether we face moments of joy or sorrow, celebration or despair.  God is always with us uplifting the human family in all times and places. Through God’s presence in us, around us and in all creation, God teaches us what one spiritual teacher said beautifully: “Our life is too precious not to love.” So, whatever we might face as individuals and as a human family, let us walk the path together with compassion: compassion for each other and for ourselves as we are enveloped by God’s all-embracing love.

 

Today as we celebrate Epiphany, we remember the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child in Bethlehem. We traditionally believe that there were three wise men. Scripture does not give us that number. Nor does the Gospel tell us what their names were, but we have been taught that their names were Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Their number or their names really do not matter. What truly matters is that they sought out the newborn King of the Universe. They knew of Herod’s evil plans. The Herods of all times and places react with fear and violence against the Prince of Peace. Like the ancient Magi, we need to seek the Christ Child in our world now. We need to be diligent like the wise men and follow the correct star. We need to do our homework and pay attention as we remember these words of Fr. Thomas Merton: “Christ always seeks the straw of the most desolate cribs to make his Bethlehem.”

 

There was a television movie starring Martin Sheen that came out in 1985 called The Fourth Wiseman. It is a movie that I found impactful when I was young. It touched me in a way that I needed when I was in high school and was considering my role in the world and the vocation that I was called to by God to live by virtue of my baptism. I recently watched it again with a friend of mine. You can find it on Amazon Prime if you stream movies. I would encourage you to watch it as a way of honoring the wheel of becoming that we celebrate during this time of year as we celebrate Christmas and Epiphany. I say “wheel of becoming” because one can think of the liturgical year as a wheel and as we celebrate our Christian life and feasts throughout the year, we are hopefully becoming more and more like Christ as the weeks and years progress along the path of time. In this movie, the “fourth” Wiseman got lost along the way and through his life experiences began to understand the true gift that he gave to the Lord was his very self. He gave his material gifts to the poor along the way of life and learned to leave his self aside. That is great wisdom for each of us. As St. Francis of Assisi said so long ago, “it is in giving that we receive.” As we continue along the days of this new year, let us leave aside our self, give generously to the neediest in our world and seek Christ in our midst.

Much love,
 
Father Kevin