Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Faith Seeking Understanding for January 7, 2007

The Christmas season lasts until the Baptism of the Lord, which will be celebrated tomorrow this year. Ordinarily, this Feast is on a Sunday, but because the Solemnity of Epiphany is celebrated on this Sunday, the feast is transferred. Ordinary time begins on Tuesday, but we don’t want to miss out on the meaning and significance of today’s feast. Next Sunday, we’ll return to our exploration of the Fathers of the Church with the great St. Augustine.

Dom Guéranger speaks of the Epiphany in glowing terms: “The Epiphany is indeed a great Feast, and the joy caused us by the Birth of our Jesus must be renewed on it, for as though it were a second Christmas Day, it shows us our Incarnate God in a new light” (Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, vol. 3, p. 108). The new light of Epiphany is that of the revelation of the Divinity of Christ to all the nations: “It leaves us all the sweetness of the dear Babe of Bethlehem, who hath appeared to us already in love; but to this it adds its own grand manifestation of the divinity of our Jesus” (ibid.).

The relationship with Christmas is made clear, since “at Christmas it was a few Shepherds that were invited by the Angels to go and recognize the Word made Flesh; but now, at the Epiphany, the voice of God himself calls the whole world to adore this Jesus, and hear him” (ibid.).

The feast of Epiphany celebrates three great mysteries of our Faith, “manifestations” of Jesus’ glory: “[first,] the mystery of the Magi coming from the East, under the guidance of a star, and adoring the Infant of Bethlehem as the divine King; [second,] the mystery of the Baptism of Chris, who, whilst standing in the waters of the Jordan, was proclaimed by the Eternal Father as Son of God; and thirdly, the mystery of the divine power of this same Jesus, when he changed the water into wine at the marriage-feast of Cana” (ibid.).

Yet even as we contemplate these three great mysteries, our hearts and minds are ever led to Calvary and to the Cross; the mystery of God-made-man is always a mystery of Sacrifice. Just as the rough wood of the manger – not even a fit crib for a baby, let alone for God! – points to the Throne of the Cross, from which Christ reigns in sacrifice, so to do the gifts of the Magi direct us to Sacrifice. The gold is for a great king, but the incense which calls to mind the prayers of the saints only serves to prepare us for the burial spices of myrrh, in anticipation of our Lord’s death.

The waters of Baptism signify burial as well; St. Paul asks “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3). And even the great miracle of the water made into wine at Cana foreshadows another transformation: the wine of the Last Supper into the Precious Blood of our Savior. That Blood is poured out upon the Cross, so that each of us may have a share in the divine life.

The mystery of the Epiphany, then, must be lived out in our hearts and our homes. When we see the Kings adore the infant God, or when we see Christ emerge from the waters of the Jordan, or when we see the water-made-wine, we become aware of the eternal and transcendent God and of His passionate love for each of us. This Love is not just an idea or a feeling; it is a Person, Who comes to us physically in the Eucharist as often as we come to Him.

I pray that this Epiphany may be a new “manifestation” of God, particularly in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, for each of us this year. Then, as we return to our homes and families, places of work and recreation, we would in turn manifest Christ’s love to all whom we meet. This is the goal of the traditional house-blessing that many families celebrate on this day. By marking our doors in chalk with 2 0 + C + M + B + 0 7 and recalling not only the Kings (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), but also the Latin prayer, “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” (May Christ bless this house), may we find that blessing every day of this New Year, and always.

May God bless you always!