Dear friends on the journey,
Well, it is officially 2022! Another crazy year is in the books. I hope you experienced more celebrations of life and love than turmoil. Though I know for many among us, 2021 brought heartbreaking loss and grief. Please be assured of my prayers and the support of our parish family as you navigate a new reality in this coming year. I pray this New Year brings us more joy than sadness, more peace than conflict, more wonderment than weariness, more God centeredness than worldliness.
Today’s readings for the Feast of the Epiphany are rich with so many messages. We could focus on the theme of gifts. As the Magi brought gifts to the baby Jesus, we can discern the gifts we offer to Jesus using our God given talents, abilities, and gifts for the betterment of our families, neighborhoods, parish, and the world.
We could reflect on the theme of light as the prophet Isaiah describes the Lord’s light that will break through the darkness to shine upon and guide all peoples. The Magi followed the brightest star in the sky, trusting the light would lead them to something wonderful. We could ponder what or whom lights our path. Is it Jesus in his Eucharistic and sacramental presence? Is it God’s Word? If it’s not, should it be?
The theme of unity could be a topic of conversation. Epiphany means manifestation and so the first and second readings and the gospel speak of Jesus’ manifestation in his birth as a gift not just for the Hebrews but also the Gentiles, including the Magi who traveled to pay homage to Jesus. People from all nations and generations are now “coheirs, members of the same body” (Eph 3:6). How can we be more inclusive?
In preparation for this litter, I used the practice of Lectio Divina in order for the Holy Spirit to guide me. What was God calling me to hear in that space and time? The phrase that stood out to me, or the echo, was “having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.” God spoke to them and they listened. Such wisdom and trust to follow God’s prompting!
How do we listen for God? First, we must acknowledge God’s ever presence, desire for us, and constant communication with us. Once we grasp this, the next step is attunement, slowing down to become aware of God’s voice and nudges. God speaks in many ways: prayer, dreams, nudges other people and situations. I am becoming particularly aware of God’s nudges and shoulder taps, those promptings to take action, to do for others. It might be something as simple as paying for the order of the person behind you in a drive-thru; calling a loved one just to say hello; making eye contact with the homeless person; bringing up the neighbor’s garbage cans. How do we listen to God? Well, simply put it is responding to God’s shoulder taps by stepping out and just doing it. You cannot go wrong with kindness and generosity.