The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C

Jer 1:4-5, 17-19; 1 Cor 12:3113:13 or 13:4-13; Lk 4:21-30

1. Few years ago a popular song told us, "What the world needs now is love, love, love." Perhaps the composer of this song was inspired by St Paul's letter to the Corinthians. At any rate, Paul of Tarsus would totally agree with the main lines of the song.

This chapter has been correctly called a hymn of love. I suppose too we might name it a hymn to love. Many would argue that the thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians is not merely the finest prose in St Paul's letters but also in the entire New Testament. Authors of whatever stripe would consider their oeuvre complete if they could run off such a sublime message on their word processors. The Holy Spirit had full burners working when He inspired Paul of Tarsus on this passage.

All of us at some time have asked in one form or another, "What is love?" There are of course many answers to the query. The one offered by mystics is the one I find most satisfying. They would say simply that love is a person. His name is Jesus. And, if you want to be an authentic lover, become like Jesus. He is the "lure let down to tempt the soul to rise."

Someone suggests a trick for our instruction. Wherever Paul mentions the word "love," we should substitute the word "Jesus." Listen!

Jesus is always patient and kind. He is never jealous. Jesus is never boastful or conceited. He is never rude or selfish. Jesus does not take offense and is not resentful. He takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth. Jesus is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

The glorious language does fit our Leader well, does it not?

But suppose that wherever St Paul mentions love, we substitute our own names. Is there anyone here who thinks the language fits us? If anything, we should grow red in the face - all of us - and hopefully lament our regrets. Yet, the exercise does tell us the direction we, Christ followers should be heading.

2. Someone described a biblical prophet as one who comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. Such a prophet was Jeremiah. Such a prophet is Jesus. Jesus' public ministry begins with a disaster. Think about it. Of his entire time on earth (33 years), Jesus spent about 90% in Nazareth. The Nazarenes knew him intimately - or at least they thought they did. When he stood up to do the reading, the people at first reacted with delight. But then, came a change. He told them something that shocked them. This prophecy of Isaiah, he said, has been fulfilled ... in me. At those words the Nazarenes wanted to kill him.

We have to step back and consider what was going on. The Nazarenes knew Jesus as a neighbour - and no doubt a very good neighbour. What scandalized them was that this man was saying he is the axis of history. That was a big claim but Jesus was ready to back it up. The Nazarenes would have none of it.

It is difficult to accept any prophet—someone who comes along with a new way of thinking or a radical idea which undermines our established way of thinking. Jesus was no accepted in Nazareth because he dare to criticize, and the people didn’t expected from him a teaching but the miracles. It was the stubbornness and obstinacy of their harts that caused their anger. Is it not similar among us? Are we also not angry with somebody who is trying to correct us and to help us out of errors and mistakes?

And this is a pity, because those who dare to criticize us, those who have enough courage to make corrections are our true friends. We can even say: “Don’t listen to those who are applauding and admiring you, because you will become too proud and boastful. Listen rather to those who are strong and courageous enough to show you your mistakes. They will certainly improve the quality of your life.

Roman Emperor, Mark Aurelius used to pray every day: “Lord, protect me from the false friends because with the true enemies I can handle myself”. Very often the false friends are glorifying and applauding causing the biggest damages.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

When prime ministers or presidents take office they make a solemn speech in which they outline their policies, their programs and their plans. Jesus did pretty much the same thing at the start of His ministry.

Today’s Gospel shows Jesus proclaiming the word of God in the syna­gogue at Nazareth. Jesus reads a passage from the prophet Isaiah, and uses that to tell the world about His mission, about His ministry.

Jesus announces that the long-awaited 'Day of the Lord’ had come at last. Among those listening to Jesus are the Pharisees.

The Pharisees considered themselves to be the most rigid defenders of the Jewish religion and its traditions. Their influence over the people became great and far-reaching and in the course of time, they instead of the priests, became the sources of authority.

Such was their power and prestige that during the time of Our Lord, they sat and taught in “Moses seat” With such authority many of them became arrogant and conceited and this led in many respects to a perversion of the Jewish religion.

Jesus warned the multitudes many times about the Pharisees who laid heavy burdens on people but themselves often never practiced what they preached.

Ac­cording to the Pharisees, the Day of the Lord as proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah would be a day of judgment. However, according to Jesus, the Day of the Lord would be a day of the Lord's favour, not just for the deserving, but for everyone.

The “Day of the Lord” would be a day of favour for everyone, but especially for the poor and the oppressed.

Who are these poor and oppressed people that Jesus is talking about? The poor and the oppressed are all those who are waiting for liberation.

Liberation from what? Liberation from a life of slavery to sin. Jesus came to set everyone free. And here He proclaims this “Good News”. Jesus invites everyone to repent and believe this good news.

The Good News is that salvation is available to all who want it and this salvation is not achieved through our own merits, but through the goodness of God.

This is the heart of the Good News. 'The only thing to be done is to open our hearts to the Saviour who was sent to bring us salvation and joy.

But, Jesus didn't merely announce the Good News and leave it at that. He came to make it a reality

The root of many wrongs in our world is that there is often a discrepancy between word and deed. There is often a discrepancy between what is said and what is done.

It is shown by what a person preaches as opposed to the way that a person actually lives their life.

This was the chief fault that Jesus found with the Pharisees. The Pharisees often did not practice what they preached.

Mahatma Ghandi was one of the most respected spiritual and political leaders of the 1900’s.

Ghandi helped free the Indian people from British rule through nonviolent resistance and is honoured by the people of India as the father of their nation.

He led by example. “My life is my message” said Mahatma Ghandi. And so it was with Jesus. And so it should be with us.

In the temple that day there were many who believed that Jesus was preaching to the choir. That the bad guys were out there and not in here.

And so it was that in Jesus’ day - Jesus had more trouble with so called good people than He had with those looked upon as sinners.

Why? Well, the hardest people of all to convert are those who see themselves as good people, because like the Pharisees, they don't see any need for conversion.

But is that really true? If it wasn’t true in Jesus’ day – is it really true today? How many today really believe that they are in need of conversion, that they need to repent, that they need to turn away from sin?

You know, it's hard enough to get those who are sick to go to the doctor, but just try getting those who are convinced they are well to go and see a doctor! Almost impossible.

To accept the call for repentance one must have a longing for something better.

There must be a sense that something is wrong, or at least that something is missing in our lives.

The con­version experience begins with the realisation that we are not fully what we could or should be. This realisation is the first stage of a process, the first step of a journey.

To accept and put into action the call to repentance demands openness, honesty, humility, and above all courage — The courage to admit one's guilt, the courage to ask for forgiveness, and the firm resolution to change.

It means a change of heart and a change of life, perhaps even a complete reversal of lifestyle. As such it is bound to be painful. That is why people are slow to embrace it, and just want to be left alone.

People can become so set in their ways, so sunk in a rut, that it's almost impossible to move them.

Some people resent the constant call to conversion believing that the church is too focused on negative things and should concentrate on more positive things.

In fact, true repentance is a very positive thing. It is true that to repent is to admit that all is not well with oneself.

But it is also to discover something won­derful about oneself, namely, that one has a potential which one didn't know one had.

It means acquiring a new vision, taking a new direction, setting oneself more worthwhile goals, living by better values.

In a word, it opens the way to a new life.

Understood like this, repentance is excit­ing, and always leads to joy.

To repent means to be converted. This is what Jesus is calling everyone to do – repent and believe in the Good News.

Conversion is the starting point of every spiritual journey, and it is a prerequisite for entry into the kingdom of God. The true Christian life is always in a process of continuous conversion.

A true Christian is never satisfied with the status quo. A true Christian is always striving by God’s grace to turn away from sin. A true Christian is always striving by God’s grace to live a better life.

Today the task of preaching the Gospel to the world depends on we who call ourselves Christians. It is a tough job.

But like Jesus, we are given the help of the Holy Spirit. The best way to preach the Gospel is by living a good Christian life.

What kind of Christians are we? Have we been converted? Do we practice what we preach? Have we fully accepted and incorporated the Good News into our lives?

Do we share this Good News with others as we are supposed to do? Are our lives good examples for others?

You know, the only book some people will ever read about the Gos­pel is the book of our lives.

Therefore we may need to change our lives so that they more properly reflect the call of Jesus.

“Repent and believe the Good News. Love one another as I have loved you.”

We are called to love as Jesus loved. We are called to live a life that shows that we have turned away from sin, that we have been converted. A life that sets an example for others to follow.

Because the only way that the world can come to know that we are Christians is by the love that we show for everyone - not just our friends - but everyone.

The way we live our lives will demonstrate that love. Quite a task, but with the help of God, not impossible for us.

Jesus said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Can we really claim this reading as our own?

Deacon Bernie Ouellette

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haitian Seminarians Lose Everything
As Many as 30 Killed in Quake
By Jesús Colina

ROME, JAN. 21, 2010 ( Seminarians in Haiti have been left floundering after the Jan 12. earthquake destroyed the seminary and left the 200 or so surviving students without even a change of clothes.

Aid to the Church in Need reported that at least 30 seminarians -- both diocesan and religious -- were killed in the 7.0 quake.

Bishop Chibly Langlois of Fort-Liberte gave the charity a report after he sent a delegation to pick up the 16 seminarians of his diocese.

"One of the seminarians spent two-and-a-half days under the rubble," he said. "Another was injured."

Bishop Langlois reported that three of the students were in shock and needed special care. "I have sent two to the Dominican Republic for check-ups and treatment impossible to get in Fort-Liberte," he said. "In addition, the seminarians were not able to recover their belongings. That means that it is necessary for us to provide not only medical assistance but also financial help so that they can get themselves a change of clothes and other basic necessities."

Xavier Legorreta, director of the Latin America division of Aid to the Church in Need, spoke to ZENIT about the urgent need of reconstructing the community.

The aid agency is sending $100 million for this effort. That sum, pledged Tuesday, follows last Friday's donation of $70,000 for emergency relief work. And the agency expects to send more.

It is the best they can do to respond to the call for help from the president of the episcopal conference, Archbishop Louis Kébreau, of Cap-Haïtien.

Aid to the Church in Need is working through the apostolic nuncio in Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza.

The archbishop reported the "endless list" of damages and dead.

"All our beautiful churches are wiped out," he lamented. And he affirmed his reliance on aid coming in from the Dominican Republic: "I have nowhere else to buy bread. I cannot multiply my sack of rice."

Essentially the 80 parishes of Port-au-Prince and their chapels (around four per parish) were destroyed.

"We are talking about some 320 chapels," Legoretta noted, illustrating the enormity of the task the local Church now faces. And the archbishop and vicar-general of Port-au-Prince are among those who lost their lives.

Legorreta is preparing an Aid to the Church in Need mission to the island in the upcoming weeks to analyze how it will be possible to respond to the situation of the dispersed seminarians, as well as the other dramatic needs of the Church.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 17, 2010 - II Sunday in Ordinary Time - C

The wedding in Cana

The wedding feast at Cana in Galilee touches us so much because we can identify with and feel for the young couple just married. In spite of their best calculations, during the wedding feast, the wine ran short. The bridegroom is exposed to a lot of embarrassment on the very day of his wedding. With a mother’s intuition, Mary sensed and discovered what the problem was. She immediately approached her Son, Jesus, and appealed to him to do something about it, saying: “They have no wine.” Jesus revealed his glory through his first great sign by changing water into wine.

The miracle of Cana is the transformation of water into ‘the best wine’. What was colourless and bland becomes colourful and sparkling, a source of joy and energy. Though we are free to apply the story to any experience of transformation, it is highly significant that the stone jars ‘meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews’; this is a transformation of the Jewish religion—it had become bland, self-centred, focused on personal purity. Now it is renewed and brings joy to others.

It is a common theme of the gospels that Jesus’ mission was to transform the religion of his time and make it more humane—‘the Sabbath is for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath’. In Jesus’ parables the kingdom is often compared to a wedding feast. When the Pharisees complained that Jesus’ disciples did not fast, he answered that ‘the bridegroom was with them’. In contrast with John the Baptist, Jesus ‘comes eating and drinking’.

We are doing things as we always have done, relating with family, friends and fellow-workers as before. When we hear that the people around us have ‘no wine’, we see no reason why they should turn to us. Like Jesus, we say: ‘My hour has not yet come’. We are afraid to get involved; we like to remain in our comfort zone, untouched by the pain of others. So often we act as if this is not our concern.

Mary’s words to Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana are echoing in many countries today. Men and women have ‘no wine’ to share with their families, since the wine which nature provided for the festivals has all gone, plundered by the modern economy, industrial estates and misdirected projects.

Today, let us earnestly pray that we may receive God’s grace to enter into a new level of commitment, taking charge of the situation and answering the need, ‘transforming water into wine’, and become agents of social change.


The miracle at Cana

Through the miracle at Cana, Christ not only reveals his divine nature and origin, but (perhaps) also the truth of our own, human nature before the original sin. Wonderfully turning water into wine, and then multiplying the loaves, performing many healings, causing the resurrection of Lazarus, a young man of Naim and the daughter of Jairus, silencing a storm at sea ... All these miracles are certainly the revelation of the divine power of Christ, his divine Sonship. All these miracles show the power of Christ and the fullness of His power over the world, over matter, of life. In these we can see however, that Christ is “what the man used to be, what he had lost by original sin and what is ultimately our final vocation and destination”.

When God created the world, He gave all the power over the nature to the human. Nature has become subject to man in its entirety including the commandment "labour the earth". Nature was friendly to man and God involved man in the divine work of creation with the joy of a creator. This is the evil of the original sin, made the nature hostile to man, he had to tame it and extract from it the food in sweat." Work became a burden, nature has ceased to be and is no longer subordinate to man. Christ, then in his miracles also shows what is to be the sons of God.

But in the miracle of transforming the water into wine, we can see also something very human, something very familiar. Christ, the Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity does not avoid and rejects the "small, human problems." He participates in human joys, sorrows and problems of people trying to solve them. God is not distant and haughty, distant and indifferent to the small human problems.

In this event there is yet another moving moment. The Mother draws Son’s attention to the problem of the young couple. The mother -in a certain sense- urges her Son to intervene. She noticed what embarrassed the hosts and naturally asks the Son for help. After all, He is God, the Lord of heaven and earth, yet he certainly can deal with a difficult situation...

And one more thing, her words: "Do whatever He tells you..." If we only listen to her advice and do what her Son tells us...

It is worth to carefully read the passage from today’s Gospel. There are so many lessons for us, so many threads and a lot of wisdom...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

January 11, 2009 Baptism of the Lord Sunday

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a very good opportunity to remember our own Baptism. The most important part of the baptismal rite is the faith commitment that we bring to it. Our sponsors may have made this promise for us many years ago but we must now claim that commitment in our own names. And that means nothing less than a deeply personal decision to follow Christ by living in a truly unselfish manner. It also means to renounce the alluring but false suggestion of Satan that self-indulgence leads to happiness.

Let us see a little bit closer some theological aspects and life implications of the Sacrament of Baptism. We know that the Baptism as all 7 Sacraments is the visible sign of the invisible grace.

What are the visible signs in the rite of Baptism? One is certainly the water - the same sign which was used by Saint John when baptizing Jesus in the waters of Jordan. The second one are the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. These words are known as the sacramental formula which was given to the disciples by Christ Himself before His Ascension. St. Matthew’s Gospel is ending with the following words:

Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

So these two visible signs are the external symbols of the internal graces we receive in the Sacrament of Baptism. Those graces are at least four:

- childhood or divinization - by the Baptism God adopted us as His beloved children in whom He is well pleased. He instituted a new relationship between me and Him, He became my Father, and I am –since then- His child. Do I realize what my dignity as the child of God is?

- forgiveness of all sins and reception of the sanctifying grace of God. By Baptism God forgives all my sins and creates the conditions of an intimate Communion with Him. Only because of His Sanctifying Grace we are able to approach Him and to call Him “Our Father”.

- through Baptism we are buried with Christ for sins and we are born anew to a new life of freedom, as the coheirs of the Everlasting Life, as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

- and finally we became the members of the People of God, the Church.

We will never be able to understand full the first three graces we receive through the Sacrament of Baptism. We will be able to see the fullness of these graces in Heaven once facing God as He is. But already here we have to be aware of the dignity we received, the dignity of the children of God, brother and sisters of His Son Jesus Christ, invited to participate in the Community of God.

But this dignity is also a source of our moral obligations. As Jesus commanded His disciples: “to baptize all nations teaching them to observe all that He have commanded ”. And what does it mean? The answer we can find in today’s second reading, where St. John says:

In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God consists in this, that we keep his commandments.

During the rite of Baptism our parents and godparents where asked some questions and they answer on our behalf. Let us remind us these questions:

Parents and Godparents, if your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which the child is about to be baptized.

Priest: Do you reject Satan?

P and G: I do

Priest: And all his works?

P and G: I do

Priest: And all his empty promises?

P and G: I do

The second part of the dialog is what we know as the Creed. We repeat it every time we participate in the Sunday Eucharist. It will be maybe necessary to reflect upon this text, so to realize fully what I believe as a baptized child of God.

But we have to see clearly that from the fact of being baptized originate not only the graces and supernatural gifts but also some rights and obligations.

As a member of the Church, the community of saints founded by Jesus Christ I have some rights … like for example the right to other sacraments, the sacrament of the Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist included or also for example the right for Christian burial.

But I have not to forget that as the child of God and the member of the Church I have also some obligations.

It will be absolutely incomprehensible to enjoy the rights without following the obligations. This is the meaning of the words of Saint John in today’s second reading: “the love of God consists in this, that we keep his commandments.

Do we not know what the commandments are? We know the 10 commandments from the Old Testament, we know the 2 commandments from the New Testament, we know the 6 church commandments … we know our moral obligations, we know that our first and the most important obligation (at the same time our most priceless right) is the participation in the Holy Eucharist.

And what??? What is our answer? We are quite good in claiming our rights but at the same time we are rather forgetful or even neglectful in fulfilling our obligations.

I read somewhere a frightening diagnosis of the contemporary Christianity:

An atheist said:

"If Christians are the light of the world, somebody has forgotten to turn the switch on.

Since 1960, there has been a 560% increase in violent crimes, more than a 400% increase in illegitimate births, a quadrupling of divorce rates, tripling of children in single-parent homes. And what about the abortion and euthanasia, what about the other moral issues? The world does seem to be going to hell in a hand-basket.

Very harsh characteristic of our Christian conditions, but is it far away from the truth?

I was baptized and what are the results of this fact in my life? The commandment of Christ: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” is constantly valid and legitimate, but also challenging … me too.


This is great, take a moment to read it, it will make your day! The ending will surprise you.

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. More than 200 million dollars the price of these painting!!! They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, 'Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.' The young man held out this package. 'I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.'

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture... 'Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift.'

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. 'We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?'

There was silence...

Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, 'We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.' But the auctioneer persisted. 'Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?'

Another voice angrily claimed: 'We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!'

But still the auctioneer continued. 'The son! The son! Who'll take the son?'

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the long time gardener of the man and his son. 'I'll give $10 for the painting...' Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

'We have $10, who will bid $20?'

'Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters.'

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son.

They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel. 'Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!'

A man sitting on the second row shouted, 'Now let's get on with the collection!'

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. 'I'm sorry, the auction is over.'

'What about the paintings?'

'I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time.. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings.

The man who took the son gets everything!'

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: 'The son, the son, who'll take the son?'

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3; 16)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

03. 01. 2009 Epiphany of the Lord

Introduction: During these past several weeks of Advent we have been conscious of Christ’s light penetrating our darkened world. We have celebrated God’s grace manifested through his Son, Jesus, and gloried in this heavenly visitation. In the book On Being Human, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen explains, “But Christmas is not a man making himself a god, but God becoming a man, without ever ceasing to be God. In the first instance, there is exaltation or self-inflation by which man makes himself what he is not. In the second instance, there is humiliation, for God takes on the form and habit of man.” What a glorious truth!

Penitential rite: Let us recognize our sins and ask God for pardon and forgiveness

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


Isaiah 60, 1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3, 2-3.5-6; Matthew 2, 1-12

Artaban’s gift

The greatest gift to the King of Kings is the gift of a life of faithful love and service.

There’s a story called “The Other Wise Man’’ by Henry van Dyke.

It’s about a fourth person who is supposed to accompany the other three wise men on their journey to search for the newborn King. The name of the person is Artaban. As Artaban prepares for the journey, he takes with him a bag of precious stones to give to the baby King. On his way to join the other three wise men, Artaban stops to help a poor person. The delay is just enough to make him miss his rendezvous with the others.

Artaban never does catch up with them. He constantly runs into people who need help. And he always stops to help them. Eventually, Artaban gives away all his precious stones. As the story ends, Artaban is old and poor. He never realized his dream to meet the King of Kings and place at his feet his gift of precious stones.

The story of “The Other Wise Man’’ could end here. And if it did, it would be a sad story. It would be the story of a man who never realized his one big dream. But the story doesn’t end here.

One day Artaban is in Jerusalem. The city is buzzing with excitement. Authorities are about to execute a criminal. When Artaban sees the criminal, his heart skips a beat. Something tells him this is the King of Kings for whom he has been searching all his life. Artaban is heartbroken at what he sees. He is even more heartbroken when he sees he can do nothing to help the King. Then something remarkable happens. Artaban hears the King’s voice say to him:

“Don’t be brokenhearted, Artaban.

You’ve been helping me all your life.

When I was hungry, you gave me food.

When I was thirsty, you gave me drink.

When I was naked, you clothed me.

When I was a stranger, you took me in.’’

The story of Artaban is the story of many people in our world. Like Artaban, they begin life with the dream of doing something great. But as time passes, circumstances beyond their control interfere with their dream. Eventually it disappears.


The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us that we all have a gift we can give to the King of Kings. And the story of “The Other Wise Man’’ reminds us that our gift is far more precious than those of the other three wise men. Our gift is not a one-time gift of gold, frankincense, or myrrh. It’s a full-time gift of love and service. Some people may consider us foolish for giving this gift. But that’s only because they don’t know the end of the story. The story will end with Jesus saying to us what he said to Artaban:

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father!

Come and possess the kingdom

which has been prepared for you

ever since the creation of the world.

“I was hungry and you fed me,

thirsty and you gave me a drink;

I was a stranger

and you received me in your homes . . .

“I tell you, whenever you did this

for one of the least . . . of mine,

you did it for me!”

(Matthew 25:34–35, 40)


The story of the Epiphany which is only recounted in the Gospel of Matthew is most curious. Who are these Magi? And what is this star that guides them first to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem?
There are all sorts of interesting allusions here and many connections to be made. By Magi we understand that they were probably Zoroastrian astrologers from Persia. But while Christians were strongly warned elsewhere in the New Testament against dabbling in astrology these Magi are presented by Matthew as truly commendable.
Some suggest that the homage that they pay to Jesus is a kind of giving way by astrology and other magical theories to the truth of Christianity. Others say that this incident is to show that even the pagan world had some understanding of the importance of Christ’s role and had inklings of his birth.

Then there is the curiosity of the star. One theory suggests that it was a supernova; others are of the opinion that it was a comet or a conjunction of planets. Or is Matthew simply using a literary device to explain how these astrologers were guided to the stable at Bethlehem? A confessed feminist asked me why God gave the star to the wise men. I professed ignorance. She told me with glee, "God knows men are too proud to ask directions, so He gives you always only the stars."

I think that we have to look at all these things in the light of the title given to the feast. It is an Epiphany, a manifestation. God makes himself known to the world and to specific individuals.

Ironically the people who should have been most sensitive to the things of God are totally unaware of what is happening in their midst while these strangers from afar show a remarkable awareness of the great intervention of God that had occurred in Bethlehem.
God makes himself known; he leads and guides people on their journey through life. We believe that God continually draws all people to himself and often he does so in the most unobtrusive ways.

Recently I came upon a story that I would like to share with you. In this story the three wise men, Gaspar, Balthassar and Melchior, were three different ages. Gaspar was a young man, Balthassar a middle aged man and Melchior an elderly man. They found a stable where the Holy One was and entered to do him homage one at a time.

· Melchior the old man entered first. He found an old man like himself in the cave. They shared stories and spoke of memory and gratitude.

· Middle aged Balthassar entered next. He found a man his own age there. They spoke passionately about leadership and responsibility.

· Young Gaspar was the last to enter. He found a young prophet waiting for him. They spoke about reform and promise.

Afterward when the three kings spoke to each other about their encounter with the Christ, they were shocked at each other’s stories. So they got their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh together and all three went into the cave. They found a baby there, the infant Jesus only twelve days old.

There is a deep message here. Jesus reveals himself to all people, at all stages of their lives, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Our pictures of Jesus are basically those as conceived by Western European artists. That’s OK, but Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jew. If you were to go to Mexico, representations of Jesus would be that of a Mexican. Or an Asian in many places in the East. That is all acceptable, because Jesus has revealed himself of coming for all people, all places. In the Second reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul says that this is the great secret of the ages: that the Christ came not just for the Jews but to be one with all people, Gentiles or non-Jews alike. You are also included …