Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Solemnity of the Epiphany

Isaiah 60, 1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3, 2-3.5-6; Matthew 2, 1-12

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
MERRY CHRISTMASTIDE. By longstanding sacred tradition Christians celebrate Christmas as a season, with the twelve days between Christmas and the Epiphany as one long "Christmas day." The season ends with the Baptism of the Lord. Christmas celebrations with friends and family, decorations, and all of the other means of rejoicing, should continue throughout the season. We can never rejoice in the Lord's birth too much. As Christians, we will very often find ourselves living in contradiction to the styles and preferences of the present age. We should get very much used to the fact that we will face conflict among friends, and even at times within families, as we seek, more generously and more regularly, to live out and celebrate the mysteries of our redemption in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary's womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: 'The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.' (1 Cor 15:45, 47) From his conception, Christ's humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God 'gives him the Spirit without measure.' (Jn 3:34) From 'his fullness' as the head of redeemed humanity 'we have all received, grace upon grace.' (Jn 1:16) (CCC 504)

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."(Is 60:1) Isaiah the prophet describes the glory of Jesus Christ, who is "full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father"(Jn 1:14), our Messiah. The prophet also foretells the reality of those first three wise men, who represent the kings and the peoples of the whole earth, all of whom are called to realize their full dignity as sons and daughters of God in worship and praise of him for his glory and goodness. "Above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears. The nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness." (Is 60:2-3)

The Father's only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is 'Christ,' that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest 'how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.' (Acts 10:38) (CCC 486)

You and I, and all of mankind must, like the shepherds, the magi, St. John and the disciples, come before the Lord in his humble birth at Christmas, and worship him with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength.

You and I will be seen as acceptable and pleasing to God to the extent that, in Christ, we grow in our praise and worship of him, generously, with our whole being. How do we praise and worship God? Christ is our model and our means. Christ has set down through example and precept the ways in which we live the Christian life.

The ancient "way" of Christian life is repentance and belief in the Gospel, practically and profoundly realized in the sacramental life. The sacraments are the "Epiphany" or manifestation of the Lord for every human being. In the sacraments the whole "glory" of Christ "shines out" so that all nations may fall down in praise before the Lord. Christians, from the first foundation of the Church, have met and known Christ through the words of forgiveness in Confession: "Go, your sins are forgiven you." And from the beginning, as we do today, Christians have met Christ in the gift of His body and blood in the Eucharist, and have fallen down in worship of Him, our God. "This is my body...this is my blood." This is the greatest of all the sacraments, the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Let us be ever more generous in our expressions of reverential worship of the Lord. Do we approach Christ at communion with all the reverence, love and worship due to God? Do we observe appropriate silence in Church so that a spirit of prayer may be fostered? Are we distracted, or a source of distraction for others, during Mass? Do we observe the proper postures and practices of the liturgy? Do we chew gum in Church? Do we observe the hour-long fast prior to receiving Communion?

We prepare for the joy of heaven, where will live as the praise of God's glory forever and ever, by the way we approach the Lord as he manifests himself in the "Epiphany" which is every Mass.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.)