Epiphany: The Manifestation…Continued
Yesterday we joyfully celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the “manifestation” of Jesus to the world in the welcoming of the Magi by the humble Holy Family of Bethlehem. From our vantage point, centuries later, we too proclaim: “Jesus is the loving Savior of all people, without exception!”
Today’s Gospel selection from Matthew helps us appreciate the entire life of Jesus as a “manifestation” or revelation of God’s power, God’s mercy, God’s love. Jesus preaches, teaches and calls for personal repentance; He cures every disease and illness, even the possessed, the paralyzed, the leprous, those wracked with pain, the outcasts. His love reaches out and grants new life for everyone!
The Gospel selection goes on to say that great crowds from many parts of the area followed Jesus, no doubt looking for additional “manifestations” via the miracles and powerful teachings. Their motivation? Perhaps, like so many of us, they were a tad bit selfish…
Throughout the ensuing centuries, countless women and men have “met” Jesus, then selflessly left everything and followed Jesus — not just to view another miracle or two, but to freely give their lives in promoting the Good News of Jesus. One such rather contemporary disciple is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the 19th Century foundress of the first women’s religious congregation in the United States — and the first native-born U.S. citizen to be canonized. Her special disciple’s love included families, children, the poor of her day: each person prompted Mother Seton to be generous in loving service of their needs, with her life rooted in the person of Jesus.
You and I have received that same Jesus-manifestation in our day. We have our 21st century sicknesses, our lack of direction, our selfishness; likewise, our world suffers from violence and lack of respect for all of creation. Today Jesus continues to speak to our hearts as this Christmas season continues to inspire us, and He challenges us with great human examples such as St. Elizabeth Ann. The question of the day: Can we say “yes” to Jesus, have a true change of heart, and lovingly follow and serve Him in our day? With the Magi of old, with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, we have seen the Lord…and this Good News needs to be shared!
May God help us to say “yes” by our lives, in both our words and deeds — and may the world be ever-blessed by the person of Jesus!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is a member of the Passionist community in Chicago, Illinois.