When I was a kid the feast of the Epiphany was a big deal. We would typically take the figures of the three kings out of the nativity box on Thanksgiving and set them on their journey. They would start in the basement, and head for the place where we would always put the Christmas tree and the Creche. Day by day they would move ever so slowly towards the manger. The hardest part was to watch them go up the stairs. Have you ever seen three wooden figurines walk up a 19-step staircase? It is excruciating. One step at a time, each day of Advent. Never two stairs, God forbid they would hurry things along, nooooo. One step at a time. But once they got to the top of the stairs, it was a hard right turn and straight on through the living room to their destination. What we never seemed to understand was that they were never going to get there early. No matter how or where they moved they were always going to get to the tree on the morning of the Epiphany. I remember one year that they actually took a wrong turn. So much for being astronomers from the East with a keen sense of direction. They actually went the wrong way for two whole days!
Okay, so we probably knew, deep down inside, that our parents were moving the Kings. I mean do any of us really think that our kids believe that the Elf really moves from shelf to shelf by himself? ….. Of course, he does, what am I saying.
What was wonderful and amazing, was the process. Every day that they moved we got one day closer to Christmas morning and 8 days later, the feast of the Epiphany. As my father always reminded us, the three kings were not there at the birth of our Lord, just like we were not there at the birth of our Lord. As an aside, my brother, sister and I would have lengthy heated arguments as to what we would have said to the baby Jesus had we actually been there. You see my brother always contended that he would walk up to the baby Jesus and say; “coochie, coochie, coo!”. We told him that he would absolutely not say that, but he was unwavering. You see he rationalized that everyone else would be “hallelujah” this and in “excelsis” that so his “coochie, coochie coo” would stand out and probably get him remembered on the last day while standing at the gates of heaven. Maybe so, but I was sure that I would probably have asked the baby Jesus for something.
Last Friday night we all asked ourselves for something, we made resolutions. We asked that we change parts of our behavior during the coming year. In essence all of us told ourselves big fat lies. We made resolutions to lose weight, or to get more organized, or to be nicer to people, or to say a daily rosary, or go to the gym every day for the next 363 1/3 days. Raise your hand if you actually made a New Years resolution this year. You can put your hands down; I will not ask you to show whether you have already reneged on one of two of those resolutions.
Well, I am here to let you off the hook. As a newly ordained deacon of the Diocese of Pueblo I hereby release you from the new year’s resolutions that you made to yourself. “Resolutiones forgettus et tuo!” Done, they are wiped away.
Some of you in the back are saying to yourself, “can he really do that?” Yes, I can. And if you don’t believe me, you can google it. Go to www.stuff that deacon ed say to make a point in his homily.aoldialup.com. And there you will find it.
You see those things don’t really matter, except for the going to the gym thing, that really helps. So, I am going to tell you that you don’t have to do anything. Nothing. “Wow, thanks Deacon Ed …. I knew that there was something that we liked about you”. Awwww, shucks guys, you’re going to make me blush.
You see, the reason that you don’t have to do anything is because God has already done everything. He knew you before you were born, he counted all of the hairs on your head (I am still waiting for Him to give some of them back). He sent His only Son; He has forgiven all of your sins. He has loved you from before the beginning of time and will love you until time is no more.
You see He is with you right now. He talks to you 24/7. Have you ever had one of those friends that WOULD NOT STOP TALKING? You know what I am saying, a real “Chatty Cathy”. Don’t sit too close to the Ambo, calling our Heavenly Father a “Chatty Cathy” is more than likely a lightning bolt offence. But it is true. Remember that part in the bible, I think that it is in 1 Thessalonians 5, that tells us to “pray without ceasing”? That’s because God is talking to us without ceasing. In all circumstances we are to give thanks, and to paraphrase from St. Francis, “He uses words only when absolutely necessary”.
So, maybe I exaggerated when I said that you would have to do nothing. It is next to nothing, but it is not nothing. All that you have to do is listen. You are all wise men, and women, and children. You have all traveled a long way, and still have a long way to go. So, it seems worth it to spend a little time to just listen.
Remember the story of when Elijah was in big trouble, and ran away to talk with God? He went up to Mount Horeb and waited. It says in 1 Kings 19, “first came a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, after the earthquake, fire but the Lord was not in the fire, after the fire, a light silent whisper. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave”.
God is always talking to us in silent whispers, in shining stars, in little babies. Our only job is that we have to listen. Maybe that’s a resolution of sorts. Resolve to listen when things get noisy. Resolve to listen when things get overwhelming. Resolve to listen when things get lonely. Just listen.
Seems almost too easy. Right before you start to work … listen, right before you start to play … listen, right before you go to bed … listen. Now, if you are bound a determined to do those other things, by all means exercise more, or lose weight, or get organize, or learn French.
But He said, [in Luke 11], “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Advent was a long journey. We had to climb up a long flight of stairs and some of us actually went entirely the wrong way for a day or two but look …. we all got here at the same time. It is the morning of the Epiphany and we got here just as He knew we would.
We saw his star at its rising, we heard the angels singing silently in the sky and we have come to do him homage.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
January 2, 2022
January 2, 2022