Posted by: fvbcdm | January 5, 2016

Feast of Saint John Neumann (5 Jan 2016)

On January 5, 1930, my parents and godparents brought me to the church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus on the Loyola campus in New Orleans, where I was baptized. It is a beautiful thing to contemplate a couple first giving natural life to a child and then making it possible for the Church to give that child supernatural life through the sacrament of Baptism. What a gift those things are! And what a happy sequence of events followed upon my Baptism and my being raised as a Catholic!

I hope that you know the date of your own Baptism and celebrate it each year with gratitude in your heart to the God who adopts us into his family by making us brothers and sisters of his divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This past Sunday we celebrated the solemnity of the Epiphany. It used to be celebrated on January 6, but since it is such an important event in the life of Jesus and the life of the Church, it is now moved to Sunday so that a larger number of the faithful can celebrate it prayerfully and in the context of our sacred liturgy — our life of divine worship.

There are a number of traditions that have grown up around the feast of the Epiphany that are not necessarily true.  Basically, the Epiphany is the commemoration of the coming of the first Gentiles (non-Jews) to pay homage to the newborn Savior.  All that Saint Matthew tells us about the event is that some astronomers who were called “magi” in those days were led by a star from their home to the east of the Holy Land to Bethlehem where they found the infant Jesus. They offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then they returned to their home. How many magi were there? We are not told, but the tradition grew up that there were three, since three gifts are mentioned. There may have been just two of them; there may have been a large group. Were they kings? Probably not; astronomers were not usually kings, and there is no reason to think that these men were kings, even though they were interested in the newborn king of the Jews.

The important element of the Epiphany is that during the Old Testament, the focus of attention was the revelation that God made of himself to his chosen people, the Jews. But now, God also calls the Gentile world to the feet of his divine Son. The arrival of these men who were probably from what is today Arabia, Iraq, Iran, or as far away as Pakistan or India, indicates that God wants the whole world to come to recognize his Son as their Savior, too.

You and I are for the most part Gentiles, not Jews. That star, which was certainly no ordinary star but a very special heavenly apparition which could be seen to move over the landscape and stand over a particular house, led the first Gentiles to Christ. And our holy Catholic faith leads us, the Gentiles of the contemporary world, to Christ. So, following the lead of our holy faith, we kneel before this baby whom we find with Mary his Mother as the magi did, and we offer him the gifts of our love, our adoration, our service, and our obedience, since he tells us that if we are to love him, we must keep his commandments. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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