Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Epiphany

Father John J. Lombardi

Remember, it's still Christmas!

Sermon for Solemn Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord Jesus to the Magi

This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemn Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord Jesus to the Magi. Epiphany comes the Greek words, epi phanos, "to appear." The Lord of Lords and Creator of the Universe made Himself known to all the world. Now, because of the Birth and Epiphany of the Lord Jesus Christ, there can be no mistake, no ignorance, no foot dragging, no Luke warmness: God comes to us.

The sacred Celebration commemorates God's merciful intervention in the world: that He wanted to be known, loved and served, and not be unknown and unloved, as if He was some nebulous "spirit" distant in the starry skies whom no one could approach.

Epiphany focuses on the manifestation of the Divinity of Jesus Christ to all the world . . . "God so loved the world He sent His only Son that whosoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16). There it is: God wanted to EXPLICITLY reveal Himself (in the Incarnation and Epiphany), He wanted to LOVINGLY manifest Himself (in a Baby), and He wanted to unveil HIS MARVELOUS PLAN to all Jesus "came that you might have life, life abundantly" (Jn. 10:10).

A couple years ago the Vatican published a document, with the approval of Pope John Paul II, on Jesus Christ, as the One and only Savior of the World, and the Catholic Church as His authentic continuation and "physical extension" on Earth. This caused both joy and sorrows. Joy because the Church explicitated what has been taught and proposed for 2,000 years -Jesus is Lord, "There is salvation through no one else" (Acts 4:12). Others were sad because they interpreted this to mean the Catholic Church is hurting other churches; and that all non-Catholics are either not going to Heaven or cannot be holy.

Both these latter interpretations are wrong and are addressed in the document lovingly and clearly. The Church has always taught that the Catholic Unity that Jesus established (Mt. 16:18, etc) and continues today can be both authentic (humbly claiming its ties to the Lord Himself) and charitable (inviting others to understand the apostolic succession which Jesus set up for the continuation of His teachings on present-day Earth.). The Document also taught, as with Vatican II, that God's Life, Teaching and Way is not exhausted through the Catholic Church: an infinite God can never be explained by a limited entity even though it is divinely inspired. Thus, some of God's grace (esp. spread by the Holy Spirit) manifests outside the Catholic Church's domain.

But, since the Catholic Unity, established upon St. Peter and continued today, in and through Pope John Paul II and the magisterium (official teaching office) is God's "normal" manifestation for the world and salvation of souls, we should want to propose Jesus Christ as the singular Divine Manifestation of God to the world. Notice how John Paul articulates the "New Evangelization," we propose Him Jesus, not impose Him, to others.

At this Epiphany let us resolve to recognize Jesus Christ, as: +the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity; +the One and only Savior of the world and our souls; +as True God and True Man; + Son of God and Son of Mary, +Lord of Power and Might; + Good and Gentle Shepherd; +Loving and Merciful Lord in His Most Sacred Heart… MEDITATION:

+How does God manifest Himself to me in so may ways, ways in which I may often overlook-through my very breathing ("Come, Holy Spirit!"), without which I could not live; through my thinking-that, I can rationally make my way through life ("Let his mind be in you which was in Jesus Christ" Phil. 2:5); through the beauty of the world around me: the Catoctin mountains and neighboring valleys, the conifer and deciduous trees, all creatures containing within them, however faintly, traces of their Creator (+Col 1:15-17); the gift of Faith: He gives to me what I need, the "bridge of Faith" which connects me on one side of life and God on the other. ("Faith is the substance of what is hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." +Heb. 12:1)…Let us pray that God continue to manifest Himself to the many tribes, peoples and nations of this world, for their salvation. We especially pray that terrorists-those who wantonly murder others-may be converted to Christ, the One and Only Savior of the World.

THANK YOU to all who helped make Christmas at the Grotto beautiful, clean and holy: we joyfully appreciate all the cleaners, servers, caretakers, decorators, floral folks, all donors-and ANYone else who helped in any way to glorify God at the Virgin's Garden-THANK YOU! Also, the Chaplain Thanks You for ALL your support, prayers and gifts-May God Bless you and all your loved ones!

PAPAL DOCUMENT QUOTE: "The Role of the Family in the Modern World": "The family in the modern world, as much as and perhaps more than any other institution, has been beset by the many profound and rapid changes that have affected society and culture. Many families are living this situation in fidelity to those values that constitute the foundation of the institution of the family. 

Others have become uncertain and bewildered over their role or even doubtful and almost unaware of the ultimate meaning and truth of conjugal and family love Knowing that marriage and the family constitute one of the most precious of human values, the Church wishes to speak and offer her help to those who are already aware of the value of marriage and the family and seek to live it faithfully, to those who are uncertain and anxious and searching for the truth"

IT'S STILL CHRISTMAS ! Remember, the Church celebrates Christmas through the Baptism of the Lord, next Sunday. Though the world may "forget" or "downplay" Christmas after Christmas Day , Catholics celebrate the Christmas season because, after all, how often does a Divine Baby come into the world to save us and change the world!?

QUOTE of THE WEEK: "The loving providence of God determined that in the last days he would aid the world, set on its course to destruction. He decreed that all nations should be saved in Christ .In the persons of the Magi let all people adore the Creator of the universe; let God be known, not in Judea only, but in the whole world " Pope St. Leo the Great

Read other Sermons by Father John J. Lombardi