Sunday, January 8, 2012

This Little Light

And now, back to un-Christmasing the rectory.  Sigh...

   The Epiphany of the Lord   

Malone Catholic Parishes Priests' Residence
Notre Dame Rectory, Malone
It’s been a Christmas custom for some time—
a tradition, I guess you could call it—
to have candles in the windows 
of the priests’ residence in Malone.
That’s a whole lot of windows,
which means a whole lot of candles.
And since we don’t have a butler
to go around and light 
all those wicks each evening,
for years that’s also meant 
a whole lot of extension cords
and a whole lot of timers.
What looked so lovely to all those passing by
was kind of scary looking 
to those of us who called the place home.

The "Over-Achiever"
So this year, I decided to take advantage
of the wonders of modern technology:
battery operated candles with built-in timers.
They’re the best!
They come on for six hours at the same time each night.
So promptly at 4:00 one Friday in mid-December,
we turned them on and set them on the window sills.
Then we got up on Saturday morning,
and out of the sixty candles
scattered all over the three floors of that big, old house,
there was this one…
I’ve named it “The Over-Achiever.”
Further testing proved: it won’t shut off—ever!

Today’s feast of the Lord’s Epiphany is a feast of light.
What we celebrate is the radiance,
not of a candle, not even of a star,
but a light of revelation:
that God’s love for both the poor and the powerful,
for the people of Israel and Gentiles alike,
has been made manifest in Jesus Christ.
We see this in the visit of the magi:
these star-led strangers from the East who,
unlike the (presumably) Jewish shepherds
we encountered back at Christmas,
were not from among God’s chosen people.
But we also see it in Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River,
when the heavens are opened, the Spirit descends,
and the voice of the Father is heard.
We see it at Cana, at a wedding feast,
when—as his first public miracle—Jesus changes water into wine.
We see it, in fact, throughout his ministry.
We see it in Jesus’ Passion and Cross.
We see it—above all—in his Resurrection from the dead.
And we continue to see it in the Scriptures,
in the Sacraments, and in the life of his Church.
Over and over again, God’s love for us is revealed,
his presence is made manifest,
shining out like a beacon in the night.

The three shining co-stars of this morning's Epiphany Pageant
at St. John Bosco Church in Malone
Which makes me think of this candle.
The mystery we celebrate at Christmas—
that God has come in human flesh to dwell right here among us—
is not something limited to a few weeks around the turn of the year.
Like this candle, it’s something we should never shut off.
We are to continually make God’s presence manifest
like that star over Bethlehem:
to keep leading people to Jesus.
And not just the obvious ones, either;
we need to reach out to those from outside the usual circle.
You see, the gift that Jesus most desires
is not a coffer rich with gold,
not a temple filled with clouds of incense,
not a funeral fragrant with myrrh,
but that which these precious offerings represent:
what Jesus wants are hearts that are bowed in homage,
a great number of souls laid prostrate at his feet—
the gift Jesus most wants is you and me.
Like the magi gathered before the child cradled in Mary’s arms,
we who gather at the altar Sunday after Sunday, season after season,
should be overjoyed at seeing his light and finding him.
Just think: how much joy it must bring to Christ
when we lead others to seek and find him here, too!

In the next few days,
I’ll carefully label this candle as “The Over-Achiever,”
and then pack it away with all the others,
their nightly glow shut off till next December.
But let’s be sure not to tuck away the heart of this holy season
right along with our Christmas decorations.
All year long, we are called to give flesh
to the great mystery of God born as man in Bethlehem,
of heaven’s light and love made manifest on the earth.

                Crèche at St. Helen's Church in Chasm Falls

As good stewards of God’s grace,
strive to make your whole life 
an epiphany of the Lord—
a revelation of his continuing presence among us.
Let your light shine!  
Let it always shine!
Let it shine during the winter, 
and during the summer, too.
Let it shine in the night, 
and all throughout the day.
Let it shine close to Jesus, 
giving glory to God,
and so lead others 
to seek, find, and adore him.

1 comment:

muffin24 said...

as far back as i can remember when i was little and papa used to take us to the gazebo the rectory has always had those candles they are so pretty. But what would be even cooler if you got them programmed to the wizards in winter by the trans siberian orchestra just sayin.