January 8, 2017

A HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF EPIPHANY –  CYCLE “A” –  1/8/17  –  SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!    Peace and goodness to you this day!

I know that we’re just coming out of the greatest gift-giving season of the entire year, but as we come to the end of our season of Christmas, I thought we’d reflect today on how hard it is to buy gifts for some people in our lives.  For example, sister-in-laws, are very difficult to buy gifts for, even more so, when you’re not married.  I know what my brothers like.  I grew up with them.  I have no idea what their wives like.  Hopefully, they just keep liking my brothers!  You know who else is hard to buy for?  Old men!  My uncle lives in a “retirement” community, and whatever you buy him for Christmas, he’s pretty much got to be able to eat it or drink it.   But the hardest, the absolute hardest people to buy for, in any family, are babies.  What do you get a baby?  You buy them clothes, and a couple months later, they’re not going to fit.  What a waste of money!  Then there’s toys.  You can’t buy babies toys.  What a baby plays with, they are not going to play with a couple of weeks later.  I bought my Godson a model pick-up truck, for his Baptism.  His mother had a fit!  Too many small parts she said.  I pointed out that look how cool it is though, with the doors and hood that open up.  He’ll get that truck probably when he gets his driver’s license.   It made me think that this must have been why when I was a baby, my grandparents, and great-aunts and uncles, all gave my brothers and I saving’s bonds.  Now saving bonds weren’t so much fun when we were three-years-old.  But twenty years later, when they came due, they were a blast helping with college costs!  The worst present that I ever bought a baby?  When my nephew was born, I bought him a one-pound bag of the regular M&M’s.  I thought it was an awesome gift!  My sister-in-law said, “We can’t use this”.  And I said, well, that’s O.K., because I didn’t buy them for “we”.  I bought them for him!  And I didn’t buy the peanut kind.  I knew the little guy couldn’t eat peanuts yet.  But I wanted to be the first to introduce my nephew to the goodness of M&M’s.  After all, they melt in your mouth, and not in your hand.  He didn’t even need teeth!  And in a way, it would kinda be like getting him ready for Communion.  Yeah, I don’t think he got even one of those M&M’s.  Babies are hard to buy for!

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, and the arrival of the Three Wise Men, or Three Kings, in Bethlehem, it makes me wonder if it was difficult for them to choose gifts for Baby Jesus!  The Holy Scriptures tell us that the Magi brought Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  These were very expensive gifts at that time.  These were gifts, at least two of them were, that were perfectly fit for a new- born king!  They match exactly with Isaiah’s prophecy from today’s reading.  The gold, representing wealth and power, was for Jesus’ kingship.  The frankincense, which was used in prayer, like our incense is today, was symbolic of prayer and worship of God, and it was in recognition that Jesus was also a priest.  The gift that stands out, the one that doesn’t fit, the one that seems most unlikely at this impromptu baby shower, is the myrrh.  This is a very difficult and strange gift for a baby.  My sister-in-law might even say that it is inappropriate.  It is even stranger than M&M’s!  Myrrh is a burial ointment.  One of the kings gives this unusual gift as a symbol that this child was born to give His life for others.  It is as though, that for at least some of those who were there that day, when the Three Kings arrived, there was an acknowledgment that the crib and the cross were cut from the same tree.  There’s a deep connection between that stable in Bethlehem and that Cross on the side of a hill outside of Jerusalem, and it was evident from the very beginning.  One is never very far away from the other!

So what did you give the Christ-child this year for Christmas?  You can probably tell me today what you got your parents.  And I’m sure you can tell me what your kids.  And hopefully you can remember what you got your spouse.  And since it hasn’t been very long, you can probably even remember what you got the mailman, and what you got your kid’s teacher, and what you got for Uncle Bill in the retirement home.  But what did you get for Jesus?  What was your gift to Him?  After all, it was HIS Birthday!   As we finish up our season of Christmas, it’s not too late.  Jesus wants YOUR heart!  He wants ALL of you!  He wants your prayers!  He wants your time!  He wants your talents!  He wants your courage!  He wants you and me to live out those Baptismal promises that we renewed last Easter.  And, and He wants us to make our Faith so much more than just words!  It’s time to put our Faith into action!

We’re still not done giving Christmas gifts.  We owe our biggest and best one yet, to that Baby in the crib just outside of Bethlehem.  On this Epiphany, may we be enlightened to know exactly who does deserve our very best gifts.  And may we never be afraid to give our best to Him, Who gave His best for all of us!

+   May God bless us on this Feast of the Epiphany…        Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…       AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…          Pray for us !!!