Today we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany. Our noon Mass has often been a bi-lingual Mass. Three Kings will join our entrance procession. Immediately following Mass, the Franklin High School Madrigals will perform a 1/2-hour program of Christmas music for our enjoyment. The Madrigals are an inspiring group of young musicians from Franklin Township who sing in traditional medieval costumes.
In its Greek origin, Epiphany refers to God’s revelation to humans. Today we focus on the wise men or magi whom later legends have named as Melchior, Casper, and Balthazar. They may have been of noble birth, educated, wealthy, and influential. Whether we agree or not with the non-biblical descriptions of them, one thing is certain: they had studied the Hebrew Scriptures, in particular, the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Their study of the Scriptures led them to the Messiah and they adored him.
Reading and praying the Scriptures is the surest way to know the Messiah. The decision to do it daily is an excellent resolution for the New Year. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous German Lutheran theologian and anti-Nazi dissident, described Jesus as “the man for others.” He wrote: “The church is the church only when it exists for others…The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving.” We are aware that this holiday season of Christmas, New Year, and Epiphany is a very difficult time for many people due to grieving the loss of a dear one, struggling with personal problems, and suffering from loneliness, depression, and other issues. Are we conscious of their plight?
I emailed a parishioner who was grieving the loss of her husband and assured her of my prayers and thoughts this Christmas. Her reply truly edified me:
“Well, we made it through the first Christmas. Years ago, we started the practice of making sure others were not alone for the holidays. Mom had friends who had no family or family who lived far away. My husband and I would take our celebration on the road to them or pick them up with Mom to join us. This year, I invited my cousin to join us. He was divorced a couple of years ago and was not the one who wanted the divorce. He’s been very sad and lonely and sometimes angry. He misses his wife and 2 children very much. After Mass, I went home and cooked dinner to bring to Mom at the Rehab. He joined us. Mom said grace. We joked about how Dad would always tease her that it was too long. We all came together each with our own sense of loss, but laughed, told stories, and had great family time. My cousin smiled. He told us the story of how he rescued an abandoned dog on the highway (he’s a truck driver). God gave us the support we needed through each other.”
What a wonderful testimony of a grieving and lonely person reaching out to others who are lonely! Jesus expects us to be men and women for others. He wants us to be his hands and feet, to reach out to others in understanding, love, and care.
I will be leaving this evening for India to visit my family. I will return in three weeks.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal