A well-circulated Hasidic tale tells the story of a rabbi quizzing his students. He asked, “How can we determine the hour of dawn, when the night ends and the day begins?”
One of the students suggested, “Day begins when, from a distance you can distinguish between a dog and a sheep.”
“No,” answered the rabbi. Another student asked, “Is it when you can distinguish between a fig tree and a grapevine?”
Again the answer was, “No.” “Please tell us the answer then,” said the students.
“It is,” said the rabbi, “when you can look into the face of other human beings and you have enough light in you to recognize them as your brothers and sisters. Up until then, it is night and darkness is still with us.”
Today we celebrate Epiphany, the joyous realization that our God has manifested the good light of forgiveness and redemption in our world. While we remember with gladness the One whose birth made light live and move among us, we also have to admit that the darkness of which the rabbi spoke continues to overshadow many of us and our communities. To put it another way, the mystery Paul was privileged to reveal – that all peoples of the earth are coheirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise of Jesus through the Gospel – has not yet been fully realized among us. As long as there are divisions, as long as there is bias, prejudice and ethnic hatred, we continue to find ourselves in a darkness that longs for the dawn. Therefore, as we celebrate this feast of Epiphany, we are to recognize and realize its challenge: to be living reflections of the light of Christ for all people.
The feast of Epiphany provides us with a lovely tableau of streaming nations, of stars and kings bearing valuable gifts with which to honor Jesus, child of Mary, Son of God. But that tableau can only come to life if each of us reaches out to another and values the other as a beloved child of God and a brother or sister. We need not travel to faraway places to realize the grace of Epiphany. We need only look to our right and our left, to the neighbor next door or across the street, to our coworker or our boss, the relative we’d rather avoid or the friend we can’t forgive. Every person to whom God puts on our path is both a gift and an opportunity – a gift, because they carry within them the precious light of God’s love; an opportunity because they enable us to make the challenge of Epiphany real and practical.
As we pray together today, let our hearts be true. As we are sent forth from celebrating Epiphany, let us remain mindful that we are to carry forth with us the light of Christ and allow that light to illumine all we are, all we say and all we do until God gathers us together again. (Taken from Patricia Sanchez’s reflection in Celebration)
I hope you are enjoying the New Year and have made a New Year resolution that will bring you joy.