Saturday, January 03, 2015

Only the Ordinary is Extraordinary

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.  Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by the shining radiance of your dawning.  Isaiah 60:1-3

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.  Matthew 2:9B-11A

We all follow our stars.  The richness of a vision, a dream is energizing.  The energizer bunny is the ease with which we move from one moment of life to another.  Discovering in each moment the possibility of a fullness of God’s love for us.  The rising star grabbed the imagination magi.  For them, it suggested the birth of a king.  A Chinese legend holds that one, or more than one, of the magi came from China.  That means they would have been on a two-year trip -- which would make sense based on why Herod thought that Christ might have been born two years before.  The three gifts they bring traditionally—gold, frankincense, and myrrh—are gifts that reflect a vision of the life of the newborn savior.  For me, Gold is for his kingship; myrrh for his anointing at burial; incense for his worship as God—these symbols mean whatever our hearts tell us.  We look at the journey of the magi and realize our own journeys of life as we go from birth to our salvation.  Our piety brings our journey together with Christ; it gives the deeper meaning to life for which we are all searching.

Even as we look at our journeys of life, we realize that we have to have something really worthwhile at the end of the tunnel of our darkness.  The light that shines through our darkness is the birth of Christ in our own life.  We study how to find the moment we’re in alive with the fullness of God’s life.  We realize that God is love, and each moment of our living offers us the fullness of our life.  We look at each moment to see where our Lord is calling us, and each moment reflects something about who we’re meant to be in Christ.

The journey that I’m going to take for Christ begins each day.  Each day is a nativity of the rest of my life.  The wonder of the ordinary becoming extraordinary is the truth that only the ordinary is extraordinary in the kingdom of God.  Each moment of life reflects His presence in our life.  How we come alive to what we can do for another is the beauty of Christ being one of us.  It is in the birth of Christ that we discover the closeness that we have to Christ.  In his relationship to his parents, we know as the child was growing up that the fullness of life is responding to parents’ dreams for us.  Epiphany is not simply the permission to take the long view of life; it’s the appreciation that being on the journey is what makes life worthwhile.  We pick our goal to find Christ even as the wise men and know that we are the wise men of today.  Getting lost in our journey might subject us to asking bad advice; people’s motives are not pure—Herod wanted to protect his kingship.  The wise men weren’t so wise when they asked Herod, “Where is this king who has been born?”  Epiphany is the call on our hearts to search the Christ of the present moment in which we are experiencing.  The truth of our journey is the reality that our goal is being on the journey, not getting there.  It is ok to do for others what will give them something to finish in our name.  Making up the difference is the reality of a prayer that can make sense out of all our failures by giving them a deeper meaning.  Epiphany is our challenge to respond to the light that is the star the wise men followed.  We need to know our stars—that is the message of epiphany. 

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