The post-Christmas celebration of Epiphany illuminates the essential message of Jesus Christ. Born the son of Mary, a young unwed Jewish woman and God, the unearthly Father of Christianity, Jesus was as human as he was holy. Epiphany provides a “light-bulb” moment, reminding Christians of their connection to Jesus as one of them – a common person. The Biblical challenge for those who practice Christianity is to model Jesus’ holiness by loving one another as He did: seeing every person as equally as holy as him- (their) self.
Father Pat Griffin, a Catholic priest in Minneapolis, reflects on how we must experience Epiphany in our common lives. His reference to the concept of radical refers to the literal definition of the word, meaning: that which comes from the essence or core, in this case, Jesus’ embodied humanity — a simple reality that gets lost in our complex lives.
Fr. Griffin’s moving explanation:
North Minneapolis, Minnesota January 1, 2011
In the middle of the Incarnation, the story of Jesus’ birth, a new moment of revelation arrives. We call this moment “Epiphany—“ the revelation of the Christ for all peoples.
Epiphany is a radical moment of God’s surprising grace appearing in human history. This radical moment of surprising grace continues in our time. Jesus, our Christ, comes to all peoples.
Here are a few thoughts about this mystery-revealing grace:
First of all, the Christ is born among the poor. He comes from the poor and the marginal, not from the political or military classes—not from the old lineage of kings and queens—not from the a defeated people looking to seize power again. He comes from the poor. It is God’s choice.
In our day we call this mystery God’s fundamental option for the poor. And God’s choice upsets all the divisions we have created in the human family. All our divisions can no longer be justified.
Second, in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of this as a mystery so radical that Jews and Gentiles are now united as members of one body. Can we grasp how radical a statement that is? In the human family, there are differences among us. We who accept Jesus as our Christ must become messengers and witnesses of this radical revelation.
My final thought brings us to the presence of Jesus in our time. Christ’s radical grace becomes a radical challenge. I am talking about the dialogue between religions and the listening to one another that must happen between Christians, Jews, Muslims and all faiths that live in human family. Dialogue, listening to one another, and respect for one another is a radical way of loving. It must happen!
If it doesn’t happen we will continue to fight with one another—sometimes in the name of God. And we will allow the factions of hate and violence that exist in every religion including our own, to succeed. We cannot let that happen!
Someone once said that faith is the challenge that we ‘remember in the darkness what we have seen in the light.’ Today (on Epiphany) we have seen the light.
Carry the light to any darkness you may encounter in the coming year.
Fr. Pat Griffin