Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Epiphany--"God Appearances"

Father John J. Lombardi

The word epiphany Comes from the Greek and Latin,meaning "to show" or "manifest". In essence it means an appearance of God. This Epiphany Sunday is when celebrate Jesus’s manifestation to the Magi-Astrologers-Wise Men. Translation: He appeared to these folks to show God is for all peoples-not just the Jews; and also to indicate that He is so Divine majestically malleable that He is appearing all around us… Do you see Him?

While going to the Grotto daily all I have to do is merely roll out of bed and drive a couple minutes up the Mountain. Very simple and short. In light of this I was struck by Marcia and her husband Frank who drove 1,100 miles to visit the Grotto two weeks ago. And that was a weekend-only pilgrimage. Wow! She was recently diagnosed with a recurring cancer and wanted to get a good jump start before her upcoming treatments. She said: What better place than the Grotto? This holy couple came to Mass, received blessings, drank the spring water, fellowshipped with other pilgrims and prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Thru all these ways she relieved healing­and also manifested it to others.

Marcia said something profound while at a social. She mentioned the difficulty her children are having in accepting her now-recurring illness and family’s uncertain future. But Marcia’s personality is otherwise­and her faith. She’s a God-seeker and follower. She explained to her children her acceptance of God’s mysterious Plan, in that if God imaginarily said she, Marcia, could have one minute of cancer-free existence in peace, would she take it? Marcia said assertively: "No,I would not take it. That would pull me out of the Will of God." …She continued: His Will is to allow me to have this and work thru it. I want to do His Will... Wow again. This pilgrim lady demonstrated great Faith and also, for me, "an appearance of God" manifesting Himself and His Cross and Providence in this lady--so clearly­just at a time when I needed an inspiration

like this. I never received this teaching or demonstration of Faith in the seminary–you can’t learn this in a textbook­it is a

Divine, illuminating experience and a welcome epiphany that breaks into our world sometimes so spontaneously!...So, ask: In difficult times how do you draw close to God or go away from Him? Do Crosses and tribulations help or hurt your relationship with God and others? May this lady’s witness help and inspire you!

Another Epiphany: I met Shane last week. He was straggling across the parking lot with his mom to the Glass Chapel to pray in front of Jesus in the Eucharist. He’s a cancer survivor. No, better yet: he’s a heroic witness of Faith and mystical communion. We stopped and talked on the lot and he told me how has been healed of his sickness and how much the Grotto has done for him and how he wants to spread God’s message to all he can­especially others struggling with cancer. He and his mom said Jesus was not in their lives and now He is in­Christ is a living reality permeating all aspects of their life. They said how Jesus is now the "leader of their family"­and how Christ was once just an idea or a thought but now He is truly experienced in their conciseness. They gleamed with gratefulness at all the help they’ve gotten these past few months and truly believe Mary’s Grotto is a sacred place and that God has spoken in their lives. They said they will continue to come to the Grotto on pilgrimage and thank God for all the "angels"­human messengers who carry and extend God’s love and healing peace to them and others . Their main mission now: to communicate all this thru word and deed and internet to invite people to God the Infinite Source of Medicine and Immortality… How can you encourage others to God and Healing Love? How can you witness God’s love and conversion in your life to others? How will you pray and intercede for others? Just before Christmas I visited jail and had an epiphany. I asked the lady I visited, using a telephone to communicate thru the thick glass plate separating us, how she was doing, and, "Are you getting ready for Christmas?" She said instantly as a smile lit up her face, It’s going well. There’s no commercialization here­you can really focus. God is within." Whew. She’s in jail and freer than most people. She later said how much she is learning in the spiritual life and, despite all the beaurocracy and hold-ups for her release she sadi assertively, confidently: God’s got a plan for me here­He’s teaching me…

Another epiphany: I received a Christmas card and letter. It was inspiring and epiphanic! The pilgrim mentioned how she was convicted that God was calling her to serve­in new and bolder ways. She went on to say how poor persons were relying on her and others to give them hope and reveal how they were not forgotten. She also said that when the when people give alms and love, it is SoneOne else the receivers actually see Who sent them: The Lord God. After all my years of priestly service this was a unique and deer-in-the-headlights epiphany and Christmas Gift! While visiting and caroling at a drug treatment center with dozens of adults, children and babies, I met many people there struggling with addictions and needing hope. During our caroling as kids handed out rosaries, cookies and cheer, I noticed one big man, kind of looking like the wrestler Hulk Hogan­light hair and gateaux, stern face and bandana on his heed and big biceps. As time went on he meandered out in a hallway looking sadder. Eventually a mom with her baby-child was near him and they began talking, Next thing I noticed: the big guy was holding the baby and looking cheerful. Later I found out: he had children whom he hadn’t seen in decades and obviously missed them, especially at Christmastime. In comes the baby (epiphany-appearance) and this big guy begins weeping--lots…So how can you carry God’s presence to others­especially those in special needs? How can you avoid avoiding others and being a messenger of God’s epiphanies?

Last: A friend showed her sickly friend an inspiring story to cheer her up. The sick persons said: I really really needed to see that today. I am having lots of pain today in my shoulder and I know I'm letting doubt slip in which I know is making things worse, at least I can unite my pain to Jesus' shoulder pain the tiniest , little bit for the conversion of sinners and end to abortion." When you think about it when we’re in God’s Divine Will and accord it’s all an Epiphany!

How to Respond:

Look for God as He appears in His creation around you. Look under your nose: God is closer than you think. Pray, accept Him more deeply in your heart and family and friends.See Him in the Eucharist: "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world…" (Jn. )

Christmas Season: continues thru New Year until Jan 11. So: be countercultural and more truly Christians and Catholic and don’t’ take down your Christmas tree or lights; go to Mass more; read and sing about Christmas (Luke’s and Matthew’s Gospels Chapters 1-3). Christmas isn’t a date but a spiritual state of constantly receiving the Divine Lord Jesus as the Father Eternally begets Him!

Giving to the Pilgrim Center: "Christmas is not only a date but also a spiritual state of mind: The Lord is still gifting us with His Son! We need your help and you may pay your donation over five years! Make a Christmas gift now to our Lord and Lady’s Grotto!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi