Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Where is the newborn king of the Jews?"

The Epiphany gospel this Sunday, Jan. 8, 2011, is a continuation of the Christmas story in Matthew's prologue to his gospel. This story is is portrayed by the coming of the Three Wise Men from the East to do Him homage. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

The Greek word “epiphaneia” means “appearance” and in the western churches Epiphany commemorates the appearance (or revelation) to the Gentiles of Jesus as Savior. It is an ancient feast. It is known to have been observed earlier than 194 AD, and is therefore older than the celebration of Christmas.

Let's start with a question many are asking. Is Epiphany - Friday, Jan. 6, 2012 - a Holy Day of Obligation? Fr. John Zuhlsdorf explains in very clear terms.

Manifestation of Christ to the World

We celebrate this Sunday the Epiphany of the Lord —by which we mean the Manifestation of Christ to the World. But just who were the Three Kings? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio reveals just who they really were.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains how Matthew in his Gospel presents us with two contrasting approaches. God reveals himself through the Scriptures and in the words of the Prophets to the People of Israel but He also reveals himself through natural phenomena such as the star the wise men followed. So the good news of Epiphany, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. points out, is that Jesus is the revelation of God as one who offers Himself to us in love. Jesus is the epiphany of the invisible God in all the events of His life: as a helpless child lying in a manger, as a young man dying on the cross -- the ultimate revelation that God's glory is love.

But if we read the story carefully, we realize that far from being a children's tale, it is a tragic adult story. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says the battle lines are drawn and the forces are being marshaled. A child is born at the same time as a death-dealing power rules. It is a classic story about innocence in the midst of evil, innocence betrayed by those who should have cared. And Fr. John Foley, S. J. elaborates more.

Bearing and Accepting Gifts

The Magi Kings met the baby Jesus. And then they gave Him their greatest gifts. Fr. Phil Bloom reflects the significance of the bearing and giving of these gifts. Paul Dion, STL explains further that by giving gifts, they came to know His reason for being better. He gets the intuition that this is a way that God has of revealing Himself to us. By giving gifts, they came to know Him better.

Fr. James Gilhooley reminds us that we too owe Jesus a gift. But what gifts? Fr. John J. Ludvik suggests the gift of love to honor the King. Or why not adopt this platform - find the lost, the hungry, the broken, and the sorrowful? Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says Jesus may be in our caring for a sick spouse or relative. He may be in the outcast who reach out for us. He is in all these and countless more places. If we are wise, we will spend our lives seeking Him out, wherever He is.

Living the Epiphany Story

Epiphany is about power and what power we worship. There is the power of the word of God. There is the power of kingdoms, territories and comfort zones. There is the power of the child of the Star who comes to liberate and free. There is the power of worship and pilgrimage in search of the truth. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS challenges us with this question: What powers do we serve?

This was not lost among the early Christians. The ancient "way" of Christian life is repentance and belief in the Gospel, practically and profoundly realized in the sacramental life. Father Cusick emphasizes that 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.

And now that that the Feast of the Epiphany has closed the season of Christmastide, Benedict Rimando, M.J. reminds us all that it is time to put it into practice the message brought to us by Jesus in His expression of mission. The holidays are over! The work of Christmas begins. We end several weeks of holidays, vacation and feasting. Daniel Bean asks the question: How's your transition going?

Personal "Epiphany" Moments

Many times in our lives, we get a thud in our head, a stirring in our heart, an unexpected "Aha!" moment. We call them epiphanies. We share three such stories like that this week. First Marion Fernandez-Cueto relates how opening your hands can open your heart. She shares this in "What I Learned at the Stoplight." Then Bo Sanchez talks about the blessed moment when he learned this important lesson: "Stop Trying To Fix People."

And third, we bring you the story of actor Gary Graham. He had been a participant in three abortions in his life - even paying for their costs - until his own Epiphany moment. Now he condemns what he calls a woman’s “Right to Choose…to Kill Her Baby.” And he did this despite knowing that by writing about his personal experience and rejection of abortion, he would be incurring the ire of not a few among the Hollywood elite.

Mystery, Conversion, Sabbath and Praying to Saints

In the secular world a “mystery” is something which baffles or eludes understanding, something which lies undisclosed. And the usual attitude of the world toward mystery is to resolve it, get to the bottom of, or uncover it. Msgr. Charles Pope explains that in the Christian and especially the Catholic world, “mystery” is something a bit different.

From the Washington Post, we get the conversion story of columnist Bob Arscott. Before he converted to Catholicism, he believed his life was the way it was supposed to be. Converting to Catholicism, he explains here, was a challenging but rewarding decision.

And Taylor Marshall answers two Catrechetical question. First is a question from a Protestant reader who asks why Catholics have to ask saints to pray for them. He offers his usual solid defense from perspective of both the Bible and Traditions. Next is a question: "May Catholics work on Sundays?" Great Catechesis can be found here.

In closing, here's an intereasting look at the most common grocery labels: Enriched and Fortified, Gluten Free, Local, Trans Fat, Zero Calories, etc. We tell you what they mean and when they matter.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Why don't we invoke saints from the Old Testament?
FEATURED BLOG: Why Do We Ask Saints to Pray for Us?
PASTORAL HISPANA: La Epifania es la fiesta que nos hace orgullosos de ser Catolicos

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