We continue to bask in the light of Christmas as we celebrate the great feast of the Epiphany this weekend. The arrival of the Magi to adore and worship the Newborn King, Jesus Christ is a great solemnity in the Church. They brought expensive gifts to give the baby Jesus. And so Epiphany is an occasion of gift giving and gift receiving. It is called “Little Christmas” in many cultures where it is on Epiphany Day not Christmas Day that the gifts are exchanged. Epiphany is an occasion for us to reflect upon the many gifts we have been given in life and how well we share those gifts with others.
In a book entitled Forty– Two Gifts I’d Like To Give To You the author mentions many gifts we might give each other in life. They include: the gift of good advice, the gift of being optimistic, the gift of being patient with the problems of life; the gift of doing what’s right and knowing what’s wrong; the gift of believing in your abilities and the gift of spreading joy around.
On Epiphany we might consider joyfully offering the Christian version of such gifts including offering a kind word to someone who is feeling down; a helping hand to someone in need; the assurance of prayers for someone who is ill or unemployed; the constancy of companionship for someone who is lonely or isolated; the gift of our time to both our family and our God; the gift of listening with undivided attention to those we love; the gift of our silence in the face of gossip; the gift of forgiveness for someone who has hurt us and even the gift of forgetfulness of others past faults and transgressions. These gifts along with the gift of our Catholic faith are lived out through our loving service and support for one another both the neighbor and the stranger. They flow from the ultimate gift of God’s saving grace.
Today we celebrate not only the Epiphany of the Three Kings but also the gift and grace made manifest among us and within us in God made Man, Jesus Christ. Like the Three Kings I too have been travelling around searching for the star. Well, not really the star but rather the crèche below it. One night during this Christmas Season I spent a bit of time driving around the streets and neighborhoods of our parish. I was admiring the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations on houses both big and small. Some displays are quite spectacular! However, in searching for the star over the stable like the Three Kings I soon discovered that noticeably absent from many houses was a crèche on the front lawn. I did see Santa and his reindeer including several versions of Rudolph but not too many Holy Families!
I know that in most homes the crèche has a place of honor near the tree or in a prominent place in the house but not so outside the home. Why is that? Shouldn’t it be front and center when we decorate our homes both inside and outside? While pondering all this it occurred to me that we don’t have a crèche outside at Our Lady of Mercy!! So I quickly ordered an outdoor nativity set from Tally’s the day after Christmas! Next year it will adorn our Church property as a focal point of the season we celebrate. Perhaps you might consider the same for your own front lawn. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful sight to behold on lawns all over East Greenwich the Holy Family! Instead of Santa and reindeer we would see the sheep and shepherds, the Three Kings and even perhaps the star shining brightly above the crèche!
I am away in Rochester this weekend for the Installation of Bishop Matano as the new diocesan bishop. The bishop is a native of Providence and I had the great pleasure of living and working with him at St. Augustine Parish as a newly ordained priest. Bishop Matano had been serving as Bishop of Burlington, Vermont until this transfer. I along with many priests from Providence including Bishop Evans are making the trek to northern New York for this great celebration for Bishop Matano. I ask that you please pray for him as he begins his new episcopal ministry in the Diocese of Rochester, NY. Happy Epiphany Day! God Bless!