The Feast of the Epiphany – Encounter with God

Who were the magi from the east who came to Jerusalem and asked: “Where is the new-born King of the Jews?” Confusion, fear and the nervousness were evident in the reply they received. King Herod and the whole of Jerusalem were troubled, according to the Gospel. But so far as the Magi are concerned the fact remains: “We have seen his star in its rising and we have come to worship him.”

 Men on the Search

The Magi not only observed the signs of the time but also drew conclusions from them. Whoever they may be, God touched these “wise men from the east.” They readily responded to God’s call and set out without fear though the way was unknown and dangerous. A glimpse of the Lord, and presenting of gifts to Him – that was their aim, and no hazards, however great, could stop them.

Today’s feast reminds us that Christmas is something which happened long, long ago but is not all over: its message is still alive and perennial. The light that shone that day still shines, it is never extinguished. The message of ‘great joy’ proclaimed by the angel is still a reality. It says: God has appeared (theophany) and remains with us forever as Moses foresaw: “the whole world will be full of God’s glory.” (Num 14:21).

On the Road to Life

The Gospel speaks of human problems. These can be compared to those which Abraham had to encounter (Gen 12). We will not find our happiness in our homes, in our ghettos, in our own narrow circles of family and friends. We have to go out of ourselves. Man must always be engaged in his quest till he realizes the ultimate goal: eternal life.

On the road to life we have to face many troubles and many trials. Contrary to their expectations, the Magi had to meet with problems and difficulties on their journey. They naturally looked for the ‘new-born king’ in palaces, and their disappointments began there. But far from giving up, they continued their search. Finally, they arrived at their destination: in an insignificant place, in conditions unthinkable for a king. But their faith gave them assurance and they affirmed: “Yes, here is the King, the Savior of Mankind.” Their courage and wisdom led them to the Lord.

Adoration

The Gospels narrates “They bowed to the ground and adored him.” And they offered their gifts: Gold (the most noble and precious metal), frankincense (symbol of adoration, sacrifice) and myrrh (symbol of Christ’s redeeming death on the cross).

Faith is God’s gift which reveals to us His salvific plan. The Magi labored hard and persisted in their search to find the new born babe, the King of the Universe in Jerusalem, though no one else bothered about Him. They remained steadfast to the end, faithful to the light and inspiration which had awakened them. And God fulfilled their dream, and they returned with great joy, having seen God Himself.

Epiphany (God’s manifestation) took place especially for us. We must be touched by this saving act. On our part we too must respond to God’s sign like the Magi and give ourselves as gifts to God as He gave Himself to us. As God’s self-giving is a sign of our love for God.

3rd Sunday of Advent

This Sunday is traditionally called “Gaudete”, a Latin expression meaning “rejoice”. Besides the priest’s rose vestments we will also light the rose candle in the Advent wreath. All of these point to the nature of Advent itself, that is, a time of joyful expectation of the Lord. The whole liturgy is presented in a song taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Why must we rejoice? We have so many reasons to rejoice. The principal one, however, is because the Lord is near. (Phil 4:5). The Old Testament people, who did not even witness the first coming of Christ, rejoiced. They rejoiced in the hope of the promise of God. Today’s first reading from the prophet Zephaniah came as a message of hope to the people of Israel. Christians are a people of hope. As the Bible says that Christ is our Hope and our Hope will never fail us (cf Rom. 5:5). Hope is what leads us from one day to another.

The Lord Jesus came into this world to bring glad tidings, or good news, to human kind and he has given us the mandate to proclaim this “Good News” to the whole world. But how can we give what we don’t have? We must be filled with joy so that we may share it with others. Thus, today’s liturgy does not give us room to celebrate a “pity party”. It simply says: REJOICE!

As we approach the celebration of Christmas, today’s liturgy also challenges you and me to share whatever we have with others. Sharing can bring smiles on the faces of the poor. It would be good if you and I could put a smile on someone’s face these coming days. “The crowds asked John the Baptist, ‘What should we do?’ He said to them in reply, ‘Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.’ (Luke 3:10-11)

The answer to the question, “what should we do?” is simple – SHARE. Sharing from the abundances we are given from God is especially meaningful in this Holy Year of Mercy.

God’s Blessings!

Fr. Socorro


Christmas Collection

On Christmas we take a special collection, and this collection is different from all of the other collections during the year. As you know we get to keep 100% of this collection whereas we only keep 93% of the regular collection. This creates a wonderful opportunity for each of you, and you will get the biggest bang for your buck. You can serve and honor God with a special gift for the Christmas collection, and I ask you to be as generous as your situation allows. Know for sure that every dollar you contribute will be used for the good and betterment of St. Valentine Parish community. Thank you in advance.

Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy

You may recall, in his homily for the first Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, Saturday April 11, 2015, Pope Francis explained the reason for the Jubilee, “Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time now to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

This Jubilee Year of Mercy will commence on December 8, 2015, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will conclude on Sunday, November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and living face of the Father’s mercy.

What is a Jubilee Year of Mercy?

The Holy See says that, in the Roman Catholic tradition, Holy Year or Jubilee is a great religious event, held roughly every 25 years, for the forgiveness of sins and the punishment due to sin. The Christian Jubilee tradition began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. Since that time, the Church has celebrated 26 ordinary and three extraordinary Jubilee Years. A Jubilee is a year of reconciliation between adversaries, conversion, and a time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Therefore, it’s a time of solidarity, hope, justice, and commitment to serve God with joy and in peace with our brothers and sisters.

How do we celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy?

In the papal document officially calling the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Frances called for an array of concrete actions:

1.  Forgive those who have hurt you or have done you wrong. If possible, consider forgiving debts owned you and/ or returning collateral.

2. Read and meditate on the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospel of Luke. Sunday readings during Ordinary time of the Holy Year will be taken from the Gospel of Luke, often referred to as “the Gospel of mercy,” which includes well-known parables of mercy such as the parable of the prodigal son ( see Lk 15:1-32).

3. Go to confession regularly – monthly or even weekly. God wants us to approach him, to repent of our sins, and ask him to pour his mercy upon us and upon the whole world. Pope Francis tells us through the Apostle of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina, “I cannot punish even the greater sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.”

4. Perform one or more works of mercy every day.

5. Go on a pilgrimage. The Holy Father spoke of the special place of “the practice of pilgrimage” in the Holy Year. Traditionally, many pilgrims travel to Rome during Jubilee years to take advantage of the Holy Year indulgences to be gained by practices such as passing through the Holy Doors of the Major Basilicas of Rome, which are only open during such Jubilees. We can also gain indulgences by even making a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Detroit.

6. Share the Good News of God’s mercy through your words and good deeds.

7. Make Stations of the Cross regularly, especially at 3 p.m., the Hour of Great Mercy.

8. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily, imploring mercy “on us, and on the whole world.”

May God send His Spirit and consecrate every one of us with his anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace for us and for our families.

Fr. Henry Rebello SAC