Sunday, January 3, 2010

View from the Pew - January 3, 2010

Feast of the Epiphany

An Epiphany is a sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something, or a comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization says the free dictionary.  Today, we celebrate 3 days early, because it is a Sunday, that sudden manifestation of Emmanuel, God with Us, when the Magi came calling, and found the King of Kings and Lord of Lords asleep on the hay.  And yet, they knew who He was  because it had been revealed in their hearts, and they had acted on it.

In an earlier post, dear readers, I had written of an Epiphany that I had personally two years ago on this Feast, in Normal Illinois, at the Parish of the Epiphany there. It was part of a pilgrimage that I was on as I journeyed to Tucson Arizona that winter to spend time at our motor home that is located there. 

Our Pastor, Father John Pirt, based his homily on a quotation he had read from Blaise Pascal.  Readers of this blog might recognize that at the head of my blog is the following quote from Pascal: "He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God's providence to lead him aright.”

Blaise Pascal was the first person to invent a computing machine, which he did at age 19 to help his father, a tax collector.  That it was not always accurate, as it depended on gears made by hand, and was too expensive to be practical, does not take away from its genius, nor his.  If he were sainted, he would be the patron of nerds and geeks.

But, Father John based his homily for this Feast of the Epiphany, not on any of the above but on a separate quotation of Pascal, part of which is reproduced here. 
"There are two kinds of people one can call reasonable: those who serve God with all their heart because they know him, and those who seek him with all their heart because they do not know him."
 The quotation apparently goes on to describe that the first group is both reasonable and happy, while the second group is reasonable, but unhappy.  He also wrote of a third group that neither served God, nor sought God, and this third group, Pascal said were foolish, and unhappy.

Looking at the Epiphany story of the visit of the Magi to Jesus, Father presented us with the 3 groups in persons of the story.  He described Herod, who had previously killed his 2 sons and had other killed who might usurp, at least in his mind, his power, as an unhappy, non seeker, a member of the third group.  Though he pretended to the Magi that he wanted to go and pay homage to the Christ Child himself, we know that that was not about homage at all, but about getting rid of who he believed was a rival.  Father described the Magi as being in the second group, those who sought God, and it is obvious from their actions that there were seeking Him.  The first group, of course, was made up in this instance of Joseph and Mary, who not only did God's will, but took all this in and pondered it in their hearts.

As Father carried on with his homily, he described for us the faithful in the Church, who really move a bit back and forth between the first two groups, having days of happiness and rationality, and days of rationality without happiness, at times of discouragement or sorrow, when God seems far away.

As I looked around the Church, I saw many people that I do not know well, as we are new to the Parish, but saw in their eyes a glint of understanding that it is okay to be seeking God and to be serving God to the best of our ability on a daily basis, that God honours that, and that it serves His Glory well.

As Father described, the first two groups fit in well with the Sheep and Goats story of Matthew's Gospel Chapter 25:31-46.  In that story those who looked for Him in others, in prisons, in the needy, in the strangers will live with Him in eternity, while those who did not will not.

Food for thought.  May you celebrate your own personal Epiphanies in your life.


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