Monday, January 4, 2016

Epiphany in our Day

In our current age, an age of globalization, our understanding of the Feast of the Epiphany takes on more importance than ever. The magi who sought the infant king were not Jewish, but gentile, they are outsiders yet they were led to find and worship God in Christ. Jesus is not simply the messiah for Israel but the fulfillment of the promise that all nations would be blessed through Abraham. 

The Church believes that Christ brings light for the whole world. In Christ, we believe that God call together the whole world and all its peoples. To celebrate this feast of the Epiphany, we need to see how Christ-event calls for a healing of divisions and an openness to learn from people of all cultures and languages. It is a call a just world order – trade policies that respect the economic opportunities of all people especially the poor – environmental policies that respect the world that we all share together – spending policies that respond to human needs – investment in human needs rather than the weapons of war – a greater equality in sharing the fruits of our work and our earth. 

The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to celebrate the wonderful reality that Jesus came as a “light to the nations,” not just for some subset of the human race. Thus, the categorical exclusion of anyone contradicts the good news of Jesus Christ. Racism, stereotyping, discrimination, xenophobia, ethnic violence, extreme income & asset inequality – all are wrong. 

Moreover, in the Epiphany story, we note that Herod reflects the behavior of one who is characterized by fear. The news about a new child to be “king” threatens his position in the world. Rather than opening his mind and heart to the possibility of learning from the wisdom of these outsiders, his fear transforms to anger. It is this anger that then seeks to destroy what the Magi came to discover. In a time when fear is the currency of our public discourse, we need to open our minds and hearts to this wisdom, else we, too, will seek to destroy what Christ has come to create. 

The Child the Magi sought continues to offer a vision that is worth their long and grueling journey. In own day, Jesus offers a light that is worth sharing. In the vision of this child, born in poverty and humility, the Magi found  wonderful light, powerful good news, and the possibility of liberation from sin, injustice, and prejudice. These foreigners experienced the power and the gift of the Christ Child. Even as thy brought gifts to be given to the Child, the Child in turn opened their (and our) eyes to the experience of the light of Christ as a gift for the whole world. Giving and receiving thus happen at the same time. This mutuality is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This, then, must be true in our own ministry for justice. 

The story of the Magi has implications for many aspects of church ministry. No one is to be excluded from the light of Christ. Whether we are young or old, female or male, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white, from the south or the north, from the east or the west, from a famous school or a very ordinary one, employed or unemployed, healthy or sick, born in the US or elsewhere, all of us are invited to experience the Epiphany – the revelation of Christ for the world.

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