Sunday, January 4, 2015


   The Epiphany of the Lord   

I can’t be sure if this story actually took place,
but in the deepest sense—as you’ll see—it’s certainly true.

Kahua lived in the hills overlooking the plains of East Africa.
One day he came down to the village below.
He knocked on the church door, asked for the priest,
and then asked the priest for a job for the next six months.
The priest just happened to be in urgent need of some help,
and hired the stranger to work with him closely.
Kahua quickly proved to be an honest, hardworking, and reliable man.
Most impressively, he seemed to get along with just about everybody.
Which is why is was so shocking, just shy of six months later,
that he told the priest he’d be leaving the following week.
“No, Kahua, you can’t go,” the priest pleaded.  “I need you!”
Recognizing his guilt, he continued,
“I know I’ve been cranky
and difficult to work with much of the time. 
And I’m quite sure I haven’t paid you nearly enough
for all the good work you do. 
But I promise to make it up to you now
and do better in the future!”
Which is when Kahua explained it was never about the money.
You see, from his home in the hills,
he had looked down on the village
and saw the Catholic church and the Muslim mosque.
He knew they represented two of the world’s great religions,
and figured they might help him in his search for direction in life.
Kahua had thought he’d go
to work for six months with the Catholic priest,
then for six months with the Muslim imam,
and so figure out which religion would be best for him.
“Now it’s time to go work for the imam,” he said.
“But you didn’t tell me!” the priest replied.
“If I had only known…”  (cf. N. Connelly)

The magi—like Kahua—were spiritual seekers.
They had a star to lead them to Jesus.
But the people of our day:
where can they look for guidance?
How do they find their way to Christ?
Generally, it’s not by following a star,
but by what they see in us.

To the ancient Israelites, Isaiah said,
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come!
God’s chosen people were to shine brightly,
that all the nations might come to know the Lord.
Likewise, we can hear the prophet say to us,
Rise up in splendor, Malone!  The glory of the Lord shines upon you!
You see, we, like St. Paul,
have been given stewardship of God’s grace—
and not for our own benefit alone.
The mystery of God’s plan of salvation has been revealed to us,
and we are to make it known to others.
And since we never know who is seeking
or when they’re looking to us,
that mystery should be revealed
in how we live at every moment, in everything we do.
Here’s a somewhat silly example…
It was early in my priesthood that I learned
that tipping the wait staff in a restaurant
could be a form of evangelization—
especially when you’re wearing a Roman collar. 
Folks may not know my name or the address of my church,
but they have an idea of who I’m supposed to represent
and what I’m supposed to stand for.
What would a stingy tip say?

We often associate religion fairly exclusively
with what occurs within these four sacred walls…
…but if faith doesn’t influence all we’re doing outside these walls,
then what happens here is, in large part, in vain.

My thoughts can’t help but turn to our patron, St. André Bessette,
who died on the feast of the Epiphany in 1937.
When people came to him—and so, so many people did—
Br. André saw them for what they were: people searching for God.
He always treated them accordingly.
“If you save only one soul,” he used to say,
“you will save your own.”
One soul at a time, he led countless people to Christ.
At the funeral of this simple, uneducated, sickly man,
born not so very far from here,
a million people filed past his casket.

Rise up in splendor!  Let your light shine!
We, my friends, ought to be as so many stars
that the many nations on earth may see us
and come to adore the Lord.

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