Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Feast of the Epiphany (6th January 2008)

The new year begins with the feast of the Epiphany.

Everyone knows that the day celebrated the coming of the wise men, the kings, the magi, to the child Jesus. It is the celebration of a long and hard journey, which ends with the revelation of truth himself.

When the magi arrive they find an ordinary house and an ordinary family, and the house is blessed by their arrival, and their worship, and their gifts: the splendour of gold, the luxury of frankincense and the tenderness of myrrh. 

But of course that ordinary house is actually blessed not by the visitors, but by the one they visit. The blessibg is received not by the the host, but by the guests. The real gifts are received not by the family, but by those who givers. The Truth is revealed not to those who receive the message, but to those who carry it.

In a way this visit of the wise men is a model of all human worship of God. The host receives us into his presence, yet it we who receive the host. We bring gifts to offer to him - yet we are the ones who receive the gifts of his grace. We praise and bless him, yet we are the ones who receive his blessing.

At the end of mass today there will be the traditional blessing of chalk which we shall use do bless our houses. The name ‘January’ refers to the old roman god ‘Janus’ who stands at the door of year looking forward and back. The number of the year indicates a prayer for God’s blessing as this year begins. The letters C M B refer to the three travellers who visited the holy house – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar – but also are the initials of the latin words “Christus mansionem benedicat.” “May Christ bless the house.” 

May Christ bless our houses, our homes, our families, and our lives. 

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