Happy New Year to all! The beginning of each new year is both a time of hope and a time of challenge. The hope is that we will find new ways of looking at the old challenges and problems which we face as individuals, as families, as a community, a church, a nation, a world, and bring renewed faith and vigor into our efforts at reconciliation, charity and peace. The challenge is not to fall into old ruts and repeat the same mistakes. Among everyone’s hopes this new year is an end to the pandemic and a return to more normality.
Today we celebrate the third and final solemnity of the Christmas season, the Epiphany of the Lord. The symbol which characterizes this solemnity is light. It is first of all Christ who is our light. As Word made flesh, he is the fullness of God’s revelation of himself to humanity. By the light of faith, through which we have been enlightened in baptism, we are made capable of accepting this revelation. It is this light, which draws us to Jesus and enables us to profess our faith in him as the Christ, which is symbolized by the star in today’s gospel.
The Magi in today’s gospel represent the whole of humanity, for God’s plan of salvation is universal in scope. The people of the Old Covenant, Israel, understood that all nations would someday acknowledge and worship their God as the one true God, symbolized by those from throughout the known world streaming to Jerusalem. (Cf. First Reading and Responsorial Psalm) This has come to pass in the Christian era, since “the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Second Reading)
Now we are called to bear the light of Christ, in word and deed, into a world still too full of darkness. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus says: “You are the light of the world…your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father.” (5:14a, 16)
The liturgical season of Christmas ends next Sunday, January 10, with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. As narrated in the Gospel for the feast, God the Father himself attests that he whose birth we have been celebrating is in fact God the Son become man. This truth was announced by angels to shepherds, signified to the Magi by a star and heralded by John the Baptist.
Later this year, on June 26, God willing, Timothy Reither from St. Charles Parish and Eric Mashak from St. John the Baptist Parish in Cooks Valley, along with Arturo Vigueras from St. Peter Parish in Stevens Point, will be ordained priests at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral in La Crosse. I hope many of us will be able to attend the ordination. On the following day, Sunday, June 27, the new Father Reither will celebrate Mass here at St. Charles. Let’s hope and pray that the restrictions on gatherings that the pandemic has imposed upon us will be lifted by then.
Pray the rosary this week for our Holy Father’s intention for human fraternity: “May the Lord give us the grace to live in full fellowship with our brothers and sisters of other religions, praying for one another, open to all.”
May God bless his people with peace.