There is a beautiful telling of the Nativity Story found in a small Germanic village which might shine light for us upon the prophetic words we hear this Epiphany Sunday from the great Prophet Isaiah: “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the LORD shines upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)
As this small-village theatrical performance of the Biblical-telling of the Nativity story slowly comes to a close; when the Shepherds have returned to their fields singing and glorifying GOD, when the Magi have begun their journey home to a far-away land to tell about the One they have seen and heard, … a bent-over ragged-looking old couple slowly inch along towards center stage where the Christ Child rests under the loving gaze of His Holy Mother. As this tired-looking couple slowly approach the Manger of the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the world foretold from the very beginning of its creation – tens of thousands of years before when our First Parents gave way to temptation – they wearily bend down and gaze into His Divine Eyes for a long period of silence, as if to ‘listen’ to Him. Then they gently place a small gift into His Holy Hands; quite possibly the littlest of gifts, the oldest of gifts ever given.
As the couple begins to rise and take their leave off stage, something miraculous begins to occur. Genuinely their sadness gives way to joy, their weariness gives way to vitality, and their despair gives way to hope. This couple, only moments ago, failing in every way, have become transformed by this Divine Encounter with the Son of Mary. Their gift has apparently restored something lost long ago. This Savior born of the Woman has seemingly broken an age-old curse.
Only when the now spry-couple have gone off stage does the Spouse of the Virgin Mother reach into the Crèche to show the audience – to show all of us – what this first couple had given: a fruit, an apple. What they had long ago ‘taken’ from their Loving GOD was now ‘restored’ to Him. What in their ‘taking’ had become the cause of sin and death for all humanity, has become in its ‘return’ the ‘Gift’ of restored relationship with the One True GOD, for all who accept Him. So much for so little!
Yes, as we begin a New Year on the tails of this beautiful Christmas Season, we too are invited to see afresh the areas of our lives that we must ‘turn over’ to the Light of Christ. On this Epiphany Sunday, when the peoples of all nations are invited to find in the Splendor of the Christ Child the very One they yearn for, let us begin to seek out those we want to invite into relationship with the Prince of Peace whom we adore. Let us determine to set our sights on encouraging others to grow in their Christian faith, to find meaning in coming to know the One alone who is “the Way, the Truth and the Light.” Yet, we, too, must not lose this opportunity to let Him restore the areas of our lives that need renewal. We, too, must seek out the ways to build up our faith in Christ Jesus.
Some very simple ways to do so this year might include committing to: Reading from the Bible daily, weekly Adoration of the LORD present in the Tabernacle, attending Mass on weekdays in addition to Sundays, inviting someone to pray the Holy Rosary with you each day, and fasting or giving up something regularly. In so doing, we can already hear anew today the words of the great prophet: “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem (us)! Your light has come, the glory of the LORD shines upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1) And so may it be for us all throughout this New Year!
Fr. Ed was ordained to the priesthood in May 2000 for the Archdiocese of Boston. He held three different parish assignments in the Archdiocese from 2000-2010 before his appointment to the Faculty of Saint John’s Seminary, where he was Dean of Men and Director of Pastoral Formation from 2010-2022. Fr. Ed is currently the Administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Waltham, MA and Spiritual Director & Liaison for the Office for Homeschooling of the Archdiocese of Boston. He is the Spiritual Director for the World Apostolate of Fatima in the Archdiocese and a perpetually professed member of the Institute of Jesus the Priest of the Pauline Family.