January 2: Journey Towards the Light

January 2, 2022                                                            EPIPHANY

Introduction

It would be very difficult to live in darkness.

  • One of the things that you notice this time of year is that the nights are long and the days are short.
  • Finally, with the winter solstice, days are now gradually getting longer.
  • Do you remember summertime when sunrise is at 5:15 AM and Sunset at 9 PM?
  • There is something in creation that longs for light.
  • Light means life. 
  • Have you noticed that in the summertime when there is a light on the deck all the insects gather around it? 
  • Have you noticed that if you have a plant near a window, it, gradually will turn and move and turn toward the light of the sun?

Readings

Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany.

  • It brings our celebration of the Christmas feast to a conclusion.
  • The readings that we have for this weekend mention light in some form or another nearly 12 times.
  • It seems appropriate that during these dark winter nights the readings focus on light.

Reading from Isaiah 

In the first reading, Isaiah has a magnificent vision. In that vision he sees the city of Jerusalem lifted up on a hill.

  • The radiance of the Lord shines upon it.
  • The glory of the Lord enlightens it.
  • That light and the radiance of Jerusalem attracts people to the Lord.
  • Jerusalem shines as the light of truth in the darkness of the pagan world. 
  • The glory of the Lord permeates Jerusalem.
  •  It is the holy city that attracts all peoples and nations to the Lord.

The radiance of Jerusalem together with the light of a star attracts the magi to seek out the Christ.

Light of the star 

In the gospel it is the light of a star that guides the Magi.

  • Over the centuries there has been so much conjecture over at the star and the magi.
  • However, it was that light in the night sky generated by that star that initially caused the magi to be curious.
  • That curiosity led them to investigate the celestial event.
  • That light led them to the conclusion that the Messiah, a king was born. 
  • Immediately they knew they would have to make preparations for a journey.
  • The light of that star guided them first to Jerusalem, and then on to Bethlehem.
  •  It was the light and radiance of the Lord upon Jerusalem that attracted them and ultimately led them.

Jesus is the Light

Although the light of the star figures prominently in the gospel, Saint John in his gospel reminds us that Jesus himself is the light.

  • He is the light that has come into the world and this light is the life of the human race.
  • Furthermore, as the gospel reminds us, that light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not been able to overcome it.
  • The ultimate light is Christ himself.
  • Epiphany is the celebration of the manifestation of Christ and the manifestation of that light which has come in the world to dispel the darkness of sin and ignorance.
  • Regardless of what happens, that light cannot be extinguished and cannot be overcome.

Gospel Comparison

The gospel contains an interesting comparison between those who are moving toward the light and those who are moving away from the light.

  • In the gospel there are two groups.

Moving away from the Light

In the first group is King Herod and the religious leadership of the temple in Jerusalem.

  • Interestingly enough, when the magi come and announce they are seeking the Messiah, Herod and all of Jerusalem is greatly troubled by their announcement.
  •  If any group should have been interested in seeking out the Messiah, it should have been Herod and The chief priests and scribes.
  • They were aware of all the words of the prophets which pointed out the coming of the Messiah.
  • They should have been the ones who eagerly awaited the fulfillment of all God’s promises. 
  • However, that was not the case. 
  • When the light of the star pointed out the arrival of the Messiah, this group saw the light as a threat and became fearful.
  • Rather than moving toward the light revealed in Bethlehem they sought to destroy it.

 Essentially, they were moving away from the light.

Moving toward the light

The other group is represented by the magi.

  • Obviously they were moving toward the light.
  • They didn’t have the advantage of the Scriptures and the prophets of old.
  • All they did was gaze up into the sky and try to ascertain, by the guidance of a star, that an important event was happening and a significant person was being born.
  • Guided by the light of a star, they journeyed toward the Light itself.
  • For them, Jerusalem was radiant because the Lord shone upon it. 
  • Because of Jerusalem they were attracted by its light to the Christ.

Application

As we begin this new year, we have the opportunity to reflect on this question, “Are we moving toward the light, or are we moving away from the light? How will we know toward which direction we are moving?” 

Moving toward the light

If we are moving toward Christ who is the light, then we have that light in us that dispels the darkness of our own sinfulness.

  • That light becomes the basis of every decision and action of our lives.
  •  We are in harmony with the light because that light is our life.
  • As we struggle with the living the Christian life, that light reveals those places where darkness still has a hold. 

Yet, we journey toward the Light.

Moving away from the light

On the other hand, if we are moving away from the light, then those values that contradict the light are the ones that guide us.

  • In moments of decision and action, that light becomes irrelevant.
  • Like the people in the gospel, we have been blessed with the knowledge and the experience of the gospel. 
  • In Jesus we experience the revelation of the Father.
  • Jesus is the light that has come into the world.
  •  If we are moving away from the light, then the values of God’s kingdom do not find a welcome place.
  • Remember, it’s never too late to turn toward the light.
  • All we need to do is to examine our life and invite Jesus who is the light into those places where there is darkness.

Conclusion

We have just celebrated Christmas.

  • The light has come into the world. 
  • By our baptism we are children of the light.
  • As we begin this new year, let us continue that journey toward the light.
  • May that light fill us and bring us the consolation of knowing that the light of Christmas can never be overcome by darkness.

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