As I mentioned in my last entry, resuming now the “blogging” for “Shepherd of Orange”, I would like to share this morning two photos that I took of sunrise from the Cardinal Timothy Manning House of Prayer for Priests, here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. This year, because the 6th of January falls on Sunday, we have been able to celebrate the full 12 days of Christmas, which is many countries is now “truncated” because the Epiphany is celebrated now on the closest Sunday, and not on the 6th of January. We are still in the season of the birth of the Lord, the Nativity, which continues until next Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The sunrise on this day of the Epiphany, coming from the East, calls to mind the Magi coming from the East as well to seek the Christ Child. These images call to mind excerpts of the reading from Isaiah the Prophet (60: 1-22) for this day in the Church’s Office of Readings:
“Rise up in splendor, O Jerusalem!
You 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.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
Your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.”
The pictures of the sunrise on the Epiphany, at the above verses from Isaiah help us to reflect on the Epiphany. In all likelihood, it is a much earlier liturgical celebration of the birth of the Lord than the day on which was celebrate the Birth of Christ (although this certainly is ancient as well). Like December 25, it does invoke images of light over darkness, just as Isaiah does. The day calls to mind the journey of the Magi, from the East to follow the star, to follow the Light to the Christ child. Some Scripture commentaries that I have read have said that the gifts of the Magi to the Christ child represented their surrender of their earlier ways of life.
In this new year, in this year of Faith, what we we willing to surrender of our past to the Lord. Are we willing to let his light and glory shine in the sometimes dark corners of our lives and our cultures. We have indeed, like the Magi, “seen His glory”. Now it is our turn to follow as well. The words of Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent publication Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives, are worth considering at this point:
“The key point is this: the wise men from the east are a new
beginning. They represent the journeying of humanity toward
Christ. They initiate a procession that continues throughout
history. Not only do they represent the people who have found
the way to Christ: they represent the inner aspiration of the
human spirit, the dynamism of religious and human reason
toward him.” (p. 97).
As, then, the Epiphany of the Lord dawns upon us in this new year, as we are still in the season of the Lord’s Birth, where are we in our own procession toward the Lord? The Magi accompany us, and the entire narrative of this day reminds us of the obligation to let the glory of the Lord show through our lives, so that others may also see and follow, and that as the dawn overcomes the darkness, so too, the glory of the Lord is always the last word.
And in the afternoon, the afternoon sun coming through with its light,
shining on the wet leaves and oranges…!