January 5, 2020 The Epiphany of the Lord Fr Andy Upah

The Epiphany of the Lord

Reading 1 IS 60:1-6

Responsorial Psalm PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

  1. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Readings 2 EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6

Alleluia MT 2:2

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 2:1-12

Homily for Nativity on The Epiphany of the Lord 1/5/2020

Today we celebrate the Epiphany, when the Magi located Jesus in Bethlehem.  To our knowledge, this was the first visit to Jesus by Gentiles, by people that weren’t Jewish.  This is significant because the Jews were the chosen people, meant to be the light to the nations, to tell everyone about the one true God.

But the Jews liked the fact that God only fought for them.  It made them powerful and gave them the advantage in many ways, but God wanted all people to know about Himself, to know about his great love for everyone, not just the Jews.

The readings and the prayers today emphasize God’s desire to be known and worshipped by all.  

In that first reading, Isaiah says, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  

Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples;

but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.

Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.” 

This prophecy foreshadows the coming of Jesus, the light, into the darkness which covers the earth, the darkness of sin and of unbelief in the true God, like “thick clouds cover the peoples.”

And it says, “Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.”

Were the Magi kings?  Maybe.  We don’t know, and we don’t even know if there were three, we kind of make that assumption because they offered three gifts, but what we do know is that today there are many kings and leaders of Nations who are Christian, and hopefully they lead their nations by Christian morals and values.

In our psalm we heard, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” It’s true to an extent, there are people in every nation who are Christians.  That is the way God wanted it, well, He surely wants more, but definitely He wanted everyone in the world to know of His love for them, not just the Jewish nation of Israel.

God loves all of us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, the light to bring us out of the darkness, to give us His grace and mercy.  

Paul says in the second reading that he has been given the stewardship of God’s grace for our benefit, meaning he is able to distribute God’s grace to others by proclaiming Jesus Christ through the Gospel.

But here is the thing, it’s not all on Paul to distribute that Grace of Jesus Christ, it’s not all on the priests to distribute that Grace either, it’s on all of us who are baptized!  We all must distribute this grace, to talk about Jesus, to share our epiphany of when we first realized God was in our midst.

The Magi saw Jesus, “They prostrated themselves and did him homage.” They had an epiphany that this was God in their midst, the King of the Jews who they had sought, and they gave Him gifts fit for a king.  

We don’t know much of what happened to the Magi from there, but we at least know they were obedient to God in leaving Bethlehem directly for their country and not returning to Herod, they were obedient to the higher power after this Epiphany.

In this world, more and more people do not believe in God.  They don’t see a need for Him, they don’t believe in Jesus’ power to save, they have lots of excuses.  

As Catholic Christians, it is our duty, out of love for our God and our brothers and sisters, to tell people about Jesus, to witness to the epiphanies in our lives, and to invite them into a relationship with God starting with learning about Him... like any relationship starts, it starts by learning about the other person, right?

A line that struck me from that first reading was this, “Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow.”

When we truly love someone, our hearts throb and overflow, meaning we have to tell others about the one we love.  Hopefully we love God that much that we are able to do that.

I’d like to give three examples of how I’ve seen that happening recently.

First, last week I was talking to a teacher at Wahlert and she said, “my family doesn’t understand me, why I don’t take a job at a public school and make more money, but this is a ministry for me, this is the mission I am called to do by God.”

I hear that from many Catholic school teachers, and I see that with myself and the increasing numbers of seminarians that we have, we are hoping to accept two more this month which would bring our total studying for the priesthood up to 26.  Just 10 years ago we only had about eight men studying to be priests, so more guys are answering the call to share Jesus’ love in full time ministry.

For many teachers, for many people that work in the church, it’s not about the gold, it’s knowing that love of God and wanting to share that grace and joy with others.

Second, on Friday I received a call from a young man, twenty years old, at work at a fast food place here in town, and he was calling me because he wants to take lessons in the faith.  I was obviously curious of why he had this sudden desire, and he says “a lady here is telling me I need to learn about Jesus and I need to talk to you.”

He put the lady on the phone, and I recognized her immediately as someone who goes to church here at Nativity regularly.  This might seem strange to talk to someone that we barely know about Jesus, but what is more important?  When we love God, our heart overflows and we have a desire to share with everyone.

Third, I talked to Tom Oglesby yesterday after the 8am Mass and I asked him how he was doing and he said “well, I quit my job on the 1st and I am going to do the radio station full time. Pray for me.”

For those of you that don’t know, Tom started a Catholic Radio station here in town, FM 98.3 KCRD.  I’ve never thought about the call letters before yesterday but CRD has to stand for Catholic Radio Dubuque which is pretty cool.

Anyway, I am a huge fan of Catholic Radio.  Honestly, I learned more about my Catholic Faith from the radio than I did in my first 25 years growing up Catholic. I listened at work and as I drove around Des Moines, and it was so informing and inspiring.  Catholic Radio is a big part of why I’m a priest today.

In one way, that is an amazing leap of faith for Tom to take going full time with 98.3 KCRD.  In another way, it isn’t because we have an amazing story to tell.  

It’s an amazing love story, where God created us out of love, gave us the free will to love Him back, sent His son Jesus into the world to save us from our sins and be the light in our darkness, and allows us to work with Him in the ministry of calling others into a loving relationship with Him.

My challenge is to share your story with others who don’t yet know God… Who is Jesus?  Where did you find Him at? Which Church and what tabernacle can he still be found in today?

The world needs to know of His presence still today, He is the light in the darkness, the Epiphany that changes everything.