Each of us needs to be open to this wonderful gift of human life, of eternal life, by responding to God\'s love calling us to worship Him as single persons, the religious life, Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony and by cherishing the new life that every child embodies.
HARRISBURG,PA. (Catholic Online) - On Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, what we might call "the other Christmas". Why do I say that? On Christmas we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, Son of David - the renowned Jewish king, foretold by the prophets. We return to the ancient Judean capital, Bethlehem, the City of David, where he is circumcised on the eighth day and given the Hebrew Name Yeshua, Jesus.
In celebrating the Epiphany we celebrate the Good News "breaking out" beyond the boundaries of Israel, and being made known to all the peoples of the world - to every tribe, and tongue and people and nation. So, we celebrate the Savior who comes to the Gentiles. This is symbolized by the three wise men, who came from the East (Iraq and Iran!) to welcome and worship Him.
"Epiphany" - means "revealed". But what is it, exactly, that is revealed to the magi?
- It's revealed that God loves all human beings, not just one kind.
- It's revealed that God has a perfect plan to save us from the dead end of sin and selfishness, and love us back from the brink of hatred, jealousy, greed and violence that threatens to destroy us.
- It's revealed that God chose to do this through a small, humble and unassuming family from a poor neighborhood so that the poor and the rich could recognize the love at the heart of this world-transforming event.
Notice the stark contrast between the Magi kings and Herod the king: Herod sees the promised child as a threat. He's afraid the coming baby will crimp his style, will challenge his power and lower his status.
The Magi see the promised child as wonderful gift. They've humbled themselves to travel a great distance to a strange culture that speaks a different language, in order to embrace this baby who fulfills God's love.
Today, we too often see the commitment to marriage, the prospect of a child and the responsibilities of family life as a threat to our personal freedom, our power to do whatever we want (whatever that is) and a challenge to our independent lifestyle.
Herod's selfishness, fueled by his fears leads to his downfall. The Magi's worship leads to the salvation of all the nations. Today more than 2 billion people call themselves Christians, in large part because of the humility of these three kings.
The gift of eternal life is offered to the peoples of the world through the birth a child. The gift of human life, the greatest gift anyone can ever receive, is still being offered to us in each and every child.
Each of us needs to be open to this wonderful gift of human life, of eternal life, by responding to God's love calling us to worship Him as single persons, the religious life, Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony and by cherishing the new life that every child embodies.
On Sunday we celebrated the "Epiphany", God's great gift revealed to the world in the babe of Bethlehem, and we celebrated the great gift of human life revealed to world in each and every child, born, stillborn and unborn.
Let us respond to the deeper meaning of this Feast by participating in the ongoing epiphany, the ongoing revealing, of God's love and light to a world desperately in need of redemption.
Fr. Paul Schenck, a Priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA., is the founding Director of the National Pro-Life Center (NPLC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Center gives the Justices of the Supreme Court, their high level staff, members of the federal judiciary, members of the US Senate and other public policy makers the information, education and inspiration they need to better form their consciences so they will make better decisions. He is a Champion of the Pro-Life movement.
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