By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI
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Today, Sunday, January 6, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word ‘epiphany’ means ‘manifestation’. Symbolically, the three wise men/the Magi, who travelled from foreign lands, following the star faithfully and bringing gifts for the Christ-child, represent the fact that Christ came for everyone.
As Pope Francis has said: “On the feast of the Epiphany, we recall Jesus’ manifestation to humanity in the face of a child…The destiny of every person is symbolised in this journey of the Magi of the East: our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognise in Jesus, the Light of the World…What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us… As the Psalm says in referring to the Law of the Lord: ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Ps 119:105). Listening to the Gospel, reading it, meditating on it and making it our spiritual nourishment especially allows us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience Him and His love.”
As Christians, pilgrims of faith, we are supposed to reflect God’s light to the world and “help humanity to walk in His ways”. There is a darkness that threatens to engulf our land and our world. At every turn there is injustice and pain, violence and hatred.
In the midst of the joy of welcoming the Christ-child into our hearts and homes, let us commit this year to become the light to this wounded world. St Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, told his faithful that they must shine like stars in the world.
Modern technology can be used to make this world a better place. So, rather than constantly taking/posting selfies, or photos of sumptuous meals that you are about to eat, or sharing photos of luxurious hotels and places that you have visited, let us also spend some time to read between the lines of those who share their pain on social media and reach out to assist where we can.
As I read my friend’s blog recently, my heart sank. Her five-year-old grandson turned up at her house to visit and he had a huge lump on his forehead. When she asked him if he cried when he received the blow to his head, he said: “I can’t cry anymore. I am wearing trousers now. Mum says ‘boys don’t cry’.”
As an educator, I urge parents and teachers to reject this kind of thinking and create safe spaces for our boys/men to weep if they want. It is more than time that we promote the emotional intelligence of our males. Integral human development includes the development of all dimensions of the person—every person. I was able to discuss strategies with my friend via Skype.
Our neighbour is anyone in need. Like the Magi, let us offer our God-given gifts to promote the common good. Too often we take our faith for granted. Catholic culture and identity involve more than being baptised, and making First Communion and Confirmation.
If you are an armchair Christian, commit this year to get off the chair and follow the ‘star’; follow the light of the Lord daily, seeing Him in the face of each person and in His Creation, building His Kingdom here on earth.
As Pope Francis said: “Jesus allows Himself to be found by those who seek Him, but to find Him we need to get up and go, not sit around but take risks, not stand still, but set out.”
As he said, we must set out “to do good without counting the cost, even when unasked, even when you gain nothing thereby, even if it is unpleasant. That is what God wants. He, who became small for our sake, asks us to offer something for the least of His brothers and sisters. Who are they? They are those who have nothing to give in return, the needy, the hungry, the stranger, the prisoner, the poor (cf Mt 25:31–46). We give a gift pleasing to Jesus when we care for a sick person, spend time with a difficult person, help someone for the sake of helping, or forgive someone who has hurt us.”
Let 2019 be the year when we reject mediocrity and expel the darkness with the light of our faith.