…LISTEN, listen to what God tells you, listen to what Jesus whispers in your ear
I love Epiphany. Things feel like they’ve settled down after the busyness of Christmas. The urgency of the day; the fight to get everything ready is over and we find ourselves a little more relaxed. I can see the parallels with the Holy Family. Gone is the urgency of the ride to Bethlehem. Gone is the urgency of finding a place to stay. Gone is the urgency and pain of childbirth in a less than ideal place.
Now…. Now there is peace. The Holy Family in the stable, surrounded by the animals keeping them warm. Wrapped up against the cold outside and simply being together.
I hope that over the last week or so you have found space and time to be with your families. Wrapped up against the world, warm and quietly eating through the last of the treats from Christmas.
Though I wonder how many of us are still doing that at Epiphany? We’ve almost certainly by this point turned our minds to the new year and new tasks. Perhaps the Christmas decorations have already come down and the Christmas cake is all gone.
Traditionally Christmas decorations will stay up until at least Epiphany – today – because it is a moment to remember that Christmas is not over, it continues in the way we live our lives and how we react to the news that Jesus Christ is born amongst us.
When I talk about Jesus Christ being born amongst us, I’m not just talking about that day two thousand years ago, but how Jesus Christ is born amongst us each time a new person comes to know Him or how Jesus Christ is born amongst us each time we renew our faith, or each time we remember we are His children and correct our behaviour to be more like him.
Jesus Christ is born amongst us over and over and over again.
It is how we respond to that realisation that defines what kind of Christian we are.
To my mind there are three ways to respond to the birth of Jesus Christ over and over again in our lives.
1 – Hatred and hostility. The reaction of Herod.
When we realise that Jesus is with us, that He is prompting us to live a better and different kind of life we can get caught up in the world around us and dismiss Him with anger. We can find ways to work around Jesus – what we know to be true – in order to kill Him within us. We will rationalise bad things in order to continue in our comfortable lives. We will find ways to destroy Jesus within us, whilst outwardly saying we want to worship Him.
We come to church and show the outward signs of loving Him, but we ignore Him in our hearts and worse find a way to dismiss Him, to kill Him.
This is very dangerous. When you do this the devil will find a way to work within you. Evil will work away in the hypocrisy that exists within you.
When you find yourself hating what Jesus tells you to do, how to live, how to love, then it is time to fall to your knees in that stable and ask for the comfort and the prayers of the Holy Family.
There is a way back, a way to safety – it is the love and care of the family of Christians around you.
And fellow Christians – it is your job to see this happening in your brothers and sisters and to take care of them just as Mary and Joseph would have done in that stable as visitors knelt beside Jesus in his crib.
The second reaction – Indifference.
This is the reaction of the scribes and the chief Priests that worked for Herod. The birth of Jesus made no difference at all in their lives. They were so engrossed in the life of the Temple – the Temple let’s not forget that Herod had built for them – that the prophecy of the birth of a King in Judea was utterly irrelevant to their daily lives.
There are many Christians who are so indifferent to the teaching of Jesus, to His active encouragement in their daily lives, that He could appear in front of them, and they’d dismiss Him without a second thought.
We just plod on, one foot in front of the other without looking for Jesus working in our lives. Without seeing Him working in the world around us. We must pull ourselves back to the wonder of the stable and the miracle of Jesus birth. To the awe of those who travelled so far to visit Him.
And fellow Christians – it is your job to see this indifference in your brothers and sisters and to remind them of the wonder and awesomeness of Jesus work around us. To remind our brothers and sisters of the miracles that happen in His name each and every day!
Finally, in Adoring worship.
The reaction of the magi. The desire to lay at the feet of Jesus Christ and offer the greatest gifts we can muster.
Gold – the gift of a King. It does us great service to remember that Jesus is our King and that we must submit to Him before He can be our friend. We submit in our baptism, we submit to Him in prayer, we submit our lives to Him each day we wake when we say the Our Father. Then, and only then, are we able to see Him as friend, as counsellor, as the One who lifts and saves us.
Frankincense, the gift of a Priest. The work of a Priest is to build a bridge between men and God. That’s what the word Priest means in Latin – Pontifex, bridge builder.
This is what Jesus did in being born amongst us and what He continues to do each time He is reborn inside and around us. He opens the way to God, he made – and continues to make it possible – to enter into the very presence of God.
Myrrh – the gift of one who is to die. Jesus came into the world to die. He came into the world to live for men and women and in the end to die for us and for our sins so that we may be saved in eternal life.
Fellow Christians. It is our job to come before Jesus Christ in adoring worship. It is our job to bring before Him the greatest gifts we can give.
The gifts of submission, the gifts of bringing others across the bridge that He has built for us, the gift of understanding that our sins are forgiven, and that anyone we bring to Him will also be forgiven and given a place in heaven.
How do we react to the birth of Jesus Christ, not just in that stable two thousand years ago. But today and every day we wake?
Leave here today asking that question. Perhaps write it down on a note next to your bed so you wake up each day and ask that question.
How do I react to Jesus Christ born in me today?
When you get angry and upset in the world, ask the question, how do I react to Jesus Christ born in me today?
When you find yourself indifferent about coming to church or praying, ask the question, how do I react to Jesus Christ born in me today?
When you come to church, to offer praise and worship, ask the question, how do I react to Jesus Christ born in me today?
Ask it just as you receive the body and blood of Christ at mass – then return to your seat and LISTEN, listen to what God tells you, listen to what Jesus whispers in your ear.