by Bill Carroll
The Epiphany is a Feast and a Season where God makes the light of Jesus known to ALL—where the whole world and every one in it is invited to meet Jesus and have our lives changed.
As T. S. Eliot once suggested in “The Journey of the Magi,”, we cannot come to the crib of Christ and stay the same. The mystery of this poor and humble Child invites us to open our hearts to love—to open our lives to the mystery of complete self-giving at the heart of his living and dying for us all.
Every birth—especially that of Jesus—is also a kind of death. The arrival of a child disrupts our plans and ambitions and rearranges our priorities. It shows us our need for each other. It also shows us the true nature of power and authority, which is love. The arrival of Jesus will do that for the whole world, beginning with the Holy Family and the humble shepherds and moving on to the wise men and their entourage.
The birth of Jesus is a “hard and bitter agony” for us, who practice the ways of sin and death. As the arrival of the Prince of Peace and world’s true King, it means upheaval and fundamental change. Like Death, Eliot has the magi say, our death.
Having seen the Great Light of Jesus, we return to the kingdoms of the world and all the other powers that claim our allegiance, “no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation.” For we have tasted the Love that permeates all things. We have tasted the living God, the maker of heaven and earth, and our lesser loves no longer satisfy us.
The coming of Jesus is the midpoint of world history. There is before and after—but no turning back. For the mercy of God has appeared in our flesh and become the living center of our world. Once and for all, God has blessed us.
And so, Jesus and the Good News find a home in every language and culture—in every tribe and language and nation. He will change us all, from the humblest to the most exalted. He comes to change our violence, lust, and greed. He comes to break down the walls we build to divide us from our neighbors. He comes to lead us “out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.”
None of us can stay the same, after seeing what we’ve come to see. In some ways it’s true, Jesus is a bitter pill for us to swallow, for we are at ease in the kingdoms of death. We are, in fact, in love with the things that are killing us, and making us so very lonely and afraid of each other. The cross is indeed foolishness in our eyes, but also the wisdom and power of God.
The Epiphany is that moment of insight—that moment of spiritual clarity—when we realize we need a Savior. It ‘s an invitation into a lifelong process of spiritual growth, as well as following Jesus and letting his light shine, transforming us by his Holy Spirit of love, and then shining through us (however imperfectly) by what we say and do.
For the world needs Jesus, just like we do. And having seen and touched and tasted him…nothing can ever be the same.