Sunday, January 8, 2012

Epiphany

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Is 60:1)
The Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord is celebrated on the twelfth day of Christmas. In this one feast three different 'epiphany' events in the life of Christ are focused on by the Church. First is the manifestation of Jesus to the Magi, the wise men from the East who have come bearing gifts in order to worship the messiah. Second is Jesus' first public miracle at the wedding feast at Cana. Third is the manifestation of the Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan river.

I made it back to Rome in time to attend the Papal Mass in St. Peter's basilica for the Epiphany. It was a special Mass for a few reasons. The Holy Father consecrated two new bishops during the Liturgy. Both priests were recently named as Apostolic Nuncios (ambassadors). Archbishop Marek Solczynski from Poland is the new nuncio to Georgia and Armenia. Archbishop Charles Brown from New York is the new nuncio to Ireland. Both assignments are particularly difficult. It was really beautiful to see how happy the two new archbishops were as they processed through the basilica blessing the congregation. Archbishop Brown's task in Ireland will be difficult, but the Holy Father sent a strong message by personally consecrating and sending Archbishop Brown to Ireland.

During the homily, the Holy Father made some really important points about today's feast. The entire homily can be found here. I want to leave with you two excerpts that really struck me, which I think are really important for people to hear.
Our heart is restless for God and remains so, even if every effort is made today, by means of most effective anaesthetizing methods, to deliver people from this unrest. But not only are we restless for God: God’s heart is restless for us. God is waiting for us. He is looking for us. He knows no rest either, until he finds us. God’s heart is restless, and that is why he set out on the path towards us – to Bethlehem, to Calvary, from Jerusalem to Galilee and on to the very ends of the earth. (Pope Benedict XVI)

There has been much discussion over what kind of star it was that the wise men were following. Some suggest a planetary constellation, or a supernova, that is to say one of those stars that is initially quite weak, in which an inner explosion releases a brilliant light for a certain time, or a comet, etc. This debate we may leave to the experts. The great star, the true supernova that leads us on, is Christ himself. He is as it were the explosion of God’s love, which causes the great white light of his heart to shine upon the world. (Pope Benedict XVI)
What a beautiful image to think of Jesus's love for all of the world exploding into the world like a supernova, a supernova of light and love exploding into our world and changing our lives so that each one of us will never be the same.

There was one more Christmas surprise in store for us. After Mass the Holy Father went up to his room for the traditional noon Angelus and blessing. At the Angelus he announced that a consistory would be held on February 18th to create 22 new cardinals. Two of Americans were named: Archbishop Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Archbishop O'Brien, pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Both archbishops were rectors at the North American College. This is joyous news for the universal Church and for the Church in the United States and an awesome Epiphany day present to Archbishops Dolan and O'Brien.

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