CACINA

Homily January 3, 2016 Feast of the Epiphany

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Faith, homily, religion, scripture, Word by Fr Joe R on December 30, 2015

starofbethlehemThe feast of Epiphany is one that has come to the Western Christian church after originating in the Eastern Christian churches which grew from gentile or non- Jewish origins. The feast was seen as the manifestation of the humanity of the Son of God and was very much tied into the baptism of Jesus. The story of the magi and the word of God from the cloud was seen as the beginning of salvation leading to the crucifixion and resurrection. The Baptism of Jesus will be celebrated next week, the octave of the Epiphany. Christians in the eastern tradition still celebrate the Epiphany as the primary feast of the manifestation of the Christ child even though they also have Christmas in their calendar. The feast does show that non-Jewish Christians were not so much concerned with the Davidic lineage and Jewish scriptures as they were aware that God became man for all humanity so that all were called to a life with God. Over the centuries the Eastern and Western traditions blended together but also had and still have their differences. ckinksThe various councils of the church strove to resolve the many issues over the centuries. However, the key message of Emmanuel, God with us, is still present in both east and west and Jesus’ core message of love and forgiveness remains regardless of how much we try to make what is simple complex.

We are all called to pay homage and follow this child, to find God’s manifestation as the magi did. While we might not have a star to guide us, there are countless numbers of people around us to bring Christ to us. Whether we encounter believers or reach out to help, to aid, to feed the hungry, we do it to him for he is present there. Surely, Christ has died and risen and gone to his Father, yet still he remains among us in his Spirit and manifests himself in all kinds of ways even today.
In the feast today we are reminded that Christ is here and we carry on his work and spread his work. It would seem we are more active at Christmas, but it is as good a time as any to resolve to carry on the good we have done and maybe do more throughout the year. The homeless and hungry are still with us. How selfless are we called to be? Do we miss what is around us in terms of those in need? It is easy to dismiss the mangerneedy person and pass them by because we are in a hurry or distracted. Remember, it is the giving that is important. What more could we ask? We are not judges or keepers of morality. We should give as Christ did remembering people must make their own choices, we can only point the way and watch and wait. In giving of our selves, our goods and our time, we can be thankful that we have brought Christ to another.

Homily for The Epiphany of the Lord, Year B 2015

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, homily, inspirational, religion, Word by Fr. Ron Stephens on December 28, 2014

The Epiphany of the Lord, Year B 2015

St. Paul talk to the Ephesians today about the mystery that had been  made known to him by Revelation. It was something that no one ever understood before, and that was that God had now invited non-Jews into what had been the birthright only of the Hebrew nation. All these years God had chosen only one people as his heirs, but now he was opening his kingdom up to all people. This revelation was indeed an ‘epiphany’ for Paul, if by the word epiphany we mean “seeing the light” and coming to a new understanding. As a practicing and devout Jew Paul had taken pride in the fact that he was among the chosen people and had been very strict in his following of the letter of the law of the Jewish commandments, not admitting even free thinkers into that company. That was why he had persecuted the early church. But Paul literally saw the light on one of his journeys, and was thrown off a horse and blinded by it. And in that epiphany, he saw Christ and learned that he was to open the gate to the Gentiles allowing them to become the chosen people of God.

While the feast of the Epiphany we celebrate today isn’t about Paul’s own epiphany, it is quite fitting that this reading was chosen because the Gospel today describes an Epiphany in which men who were not Jews but probably astrologers, saw in the sky a star or a falling star which they believed heralded the birth of someone who would change the world as they knew it. They sought out this person in the story we hear today, following the trajectory of the star and arriving in Judea sought this person. It came to the attention of King Herod who was fearful of someone removing him from the throne, especially since his own counsellors recount the prophecies of the prophets, like Isaiah, telling of this event.

There were, of course, prophets who talked about all the nations worshipping the one Hebrew God. The first reading we have of the prophet Isaiah today is probably the most influential of these. The idea of seeing the light is expressed as God’s glory shining in the darkness, and because of this, kings and nations shall realize that God exists, and all shall come to God.

In the Gospel today the wise men from the East are possibly used by Matthew to express the truth that Christ, by his Incarnation, has started the process whereby all men and women can be the heirs of God. By using the references to Isaiah and creating the Kings who bring gold, frankincense and myrrh to the child, Matthew is able to tie in the non-literal prophecy of Isaiah with he reality that he wants to present – that this child was to redeem all people, and with his death, salvation was open to all nations. It is interesting that Matthew added myrrh to the story – you may have noted that in Isaiah the kings just bring gold and frankincense. The myrrh is an important addition because myrrh was used in the embalming of someone, and it is Matthew’s way of preparing the reader of the death and sacrifice which was to com in his story.

It is not important whether or not we believe there were actually three wise men or not because it is the truth behind the story that we need to get to in order to have the Gospel affect out own lives. The truth is that God has sent Jesus, the light that shines in darkness, to bring about the salvation of all the world. The truth is that we have been saved, that we have been given a gift that we don’t even deserve, all because God has chosen us, and in his infinite mercy and seen fir to reward us this way. It is not that we have been good and so have been rewarded, but actually the reverse. We have been rewarded not for anything we have done, but must now express our thanks by acting in a good way. As usual, God has reversed the human way of thinking and interacting.

If we get anything from the feast of the Epiphany today, I hope it is that we need to express our thanks to God more often, we need to realize that in trying every day to be a better, more perfect human being, we are just reciprocating what God has done to us. It is a different way of thinking about things – and so, maybe we all can have an epiphany of sorts today as well, as we look at our relationship with God in a new light.

And this is the bright and glorious Good News I present to you today.

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A and Cycle B of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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Homily January 5, 2014 Epiphany of the Lord

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion by Fr Joe R on December 31, 2013

the_three_wise_men_illustration

The feast of Epiphany is one that has come to the Western Christian church after originating in the Eastern Christian churches which grew from gentile or non-Jewish origins. The feast was seen as the manifestation of the humanity of the Son of God and was very much tied into the baptism of Jesus. The story of the magi and the word of God from the cloud was seen as the beginning of salvation leading to the crucifixion and resurrection. The Baptism of Jesus will be celebrated next week, the octave of the Epiphany. Christians in the eastern tradition still celebrate the Epiphany as the primary feast of the presentation of the Christ child even though they also have Christmas in their calendar. The feast does show that non-Jewish Christians were not so much concerned with the Davidic lineage and Jewish scriptures as they were aware that God became man for all humanity so that all were called to a life with God. Over the centuries the Eastern and Western traditions blended together but also had and still have their differences. The various councils of the church strove to resolve the many issues over the centuries. However, the key message of Emmanuel, God with us, is still present I both east and west and Jesus’ core message of love and forgiveness remains regardless of how much we try to make what is simple complex.

We are all called to pay homage and follow this child, to find God’s manifestation as the magi did. While we might not have a star to guide us, there are countless numbers of people around us to bring Christ to us. Whether we encounter believers or reach out to help, to aid, to feed the hungry, we do it to him for he is present there. He is in the least of us, for did he not say “What you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me?” Surely, Christ has died and risen and gone to his Father, yet still he remains among us in his Spirit and manifests himself in all kinds of ways even today. In the feast today we are reminded that adoration-of-magiChrist is here and we carry on his work and spread his work. It would seem we are more active at Christmas, but it is as good a time as any to resolve to carry on the good we have done and maybe do more throughout the year. The homeless and hungry are still with us. How selfless are we called to be? Do we miss what is around us in terms of those in need? It is easy to dismiss the needy person and pass them by because we are in a hurry or distracted. Remember, it is the giving that is important. Christ put no strings on anyone but to believe and do better. What more could we ask? We are not judges or keepers of morality. We should give as Christ did remembering people must make their own choices, we can only point the way and watch and wait. In giving of our selves, our goods and our time, we can be thankful that we have brought Christ to another.

Feast of the Epiphany

Posted in Uncategorized by coapbk on January 3, 2009

Daily Reflection for Jan 3, 2009 by Father Joseph Diele

I always see this as a feast that connects us to baptism and in fact, in the liturgical development of the church this would have been one of the days that the sacrament of Baptism was celebrated.

We become the light of God.  We are the energy, the power and the brightness of God for one another.  Baptism is the most central of sacraments because it reminds us of our identity, our divine identity. To be God’s light in the world is the vocation of all Christians. We are sent by God to be an ambassador of light.

-How do we manifest God in our surroundings?

-How are we at receiving God into our lives?

-What darkness are we shattering by the light of our love?

-Are our community’s beacons of light?  

Feast of the Epiphany

Posted in Uncategorized by coapbk on January 2, 2009

The Feast of the Epiphany

Reflection by Father Joseph Diele

The feast of the Epiphany is again celebrating the image of light coming into the world. The darkness gives way to the light. Read John 1:1-5.  What role has darkness and light played in your life?  Were you ever scared of the dark? Are you scared of the dark now?  God is light!  God created light long before God had created the sun the moon and the stars.  God is that energy which is energy-light. We Christians are saying ‘Light’ came into the world.  That creator God that makes light to be light is a light to the world “Light from light.”  We share in this Divine light.  On this feast we are saying the whole world all people, all creation can receive of the light who is God.

Epiphany means manifestation.  God is made manifest in our world.  The light of God is here now for all of us.  If we did not get it in the feast of Christmas here, it is again for us to reflect on the light that comes into the world.

-What do we feel of the light of God?

-What does it feel like to have the energy of God, the power of God given to us?

-What does it mean to be the brightness of God?

-In what ways have our communities called us to be Gods’ light?

The Epiphany

Posted in Uncategorized by coapbk on January 1, 2009

Reflection for Thursday, January 1, 2009 by Father Joseph Diele

The Epiphany

Isaiah 60:1-6, Matthew 2:1-12

This piece of Isaiah is written at the end of the Babylonian captivity.  The time is shortly after the return t of the exiles.  The people are discouraged.  Instead of a large flow of returning captives, there was a slow trickle.    Many of the Hebrews had adjusted to living in a new land and had adapted to the customs and the culture of the new land. Some had even abandoned God for the gods of their captives.

God here gives a rousing speech of encouragement.  God says, “get up and be bright.”

The world, the holidays our families and or friends never seem to live up to our expectations.  Life is always harder than we would wish and it is easy for us to fall into discouragement. Yet here is the time and the place. This is the moment now to rise up and be the light that you were made to be. It is in this present darkness that we must shine.  God is encouraging us as God had encouraged our ancestors.

-In what ways did the holidays not live up to our expectations for them?

-What is the present darkness that surrounds our lives?

-What do we hear when God says get up and be brightness?

-How do our communities encourage us?