lundi, janvier 07, 2008

Sermon for the feast of the Epiphany

The Messiah had been promised to the Jews many centuries earlier and the Prophets had not ceased to recall His coming. One day would come when Jerusalem would see the Glory of God and would become a light for the Nations. The beautiful words of Isaiah that we have just heard tell it. And the glory of the Holy City would bring joy into hearts.
Yet, for a Jew of the sixth century before Christ, the accomplishment of the prophecy seemed to be jeopardized. In 587 before Christ, King Sedecias who did not listen to the prophet Jeremy began a revolt against the Babylonian invader. It was not this year that Jerusalem would see the promised glory. The King was killed, the population deported, and, as an ultimate affront resounding like a bell toll which announced the end of everything, the Temple was destroyed. Where was the glory of Jerusalem? Where was the peace and the abundance promised? Believing in God and His Prophets might sometimes be a challenge and keeping faith and hope when you are down, might be heroic. But it has been said that the glory of the Lord will rise upon Jerusalem. So it will! And it will come at the proper time, the time decided from all eternity by God.
Now the time had come to achievement, but things had changed. God’s chosen people were waiting for the The King of the Jews to accomplish their deliverance, but now Herod wants to kill the Messiah. Would He take his power from him? But what power? Herod is nothing more than a puppet King and his kingdom a province of the Roman Empire. The light is coming over Jerusalem, but not in the way expected by many.
The light of the Lord shines now in the poverty and the dispossession of the crèche. It shines in the lowering of the Son of God and in the simplicity of Mary and Joseph who face such a mystery with such humility. It also shines in the sacrifice of the Holy Innocents, the first martyrs of Christ, whose blood will soon be the first live-giving seed of the young Church. And the light of the Lord shines in the star that leads the three Kings toward Bethlehem. This star, as Bossuet says, is the inspiration which is in the hearts. You are in the darkness and the amusements or even maybe in the corruption of the world. Then turn toward the orient where the stars rise; turn toward Jesus-Christ who is the Orient where the love of virtue and of truth rises like a beautiful star. Like the wise men, you do not know yet what it is. Go, walk and imitate them: ‘For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ Go to Jerusalem and receive the lights of the Church. You will find there the doctors who will explain to you the prophecies and will make you hear the plans of God; you will walk safely under their guidance.
The light of the Lord shines now in His Church, the New Jerusalem whose members are not constituted by the flesh nor by the blood but by the Spirit who has renewed them and made them members of the City of God. It shines in her holiness received directly from her Founder and Spouse. It shines in her teaching which is still a beautiful light for the minds infatuated with the love of the truth. It shines in her liturgy which stirs us from time and introduces us already to eternity in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. It shines in her works which emanate from her creative charity which pushes men to always walk toward Jesus Christ.
Finally, the light of the Lord shines in every single soul which has accepted it and therefore has become a little Jerusalem, a new temple where God likes to dwell. It is the light of the pure hearts and of the little ones who are ready to leave everything to follow the star which leads them toward Jesus.
Dear Brethren, the glory of the Lord is first within ourselves. The world probably does not see it. It does not want to recognize it, or if it does, it is often to eliminate it. Why do you think that there are so many Christian persecuted today and even in the so-called free countries, so many anti-Christian laws? The world is like Herod who did not want to lose his privileges even though they were vain. They were vain because every thing is vain if it is not for God. The Book of Ecclesiastes says: “When I turned myself to all the works which my hands had wrought, and to the labors wherein I had labored in vain, I saw in all things vanity, and vexation of mind, and that nothing was lasting under the sun.” On the other hand every thing is grace, as Thérèse of Lisieux said. Every thing is grace when every thing is done for God.
So, let us follow the star which is in our hearts with no hesitation and no doubt. Let us walk to the light and offer to the Lord the humble present of ourselves. The smile on the face of Mary will show us that our little present would have been accepted by her Son. May she help us and encourage us to keep moving toward the Orient where the Sun of Justice rises.

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