It's one of my favorite little spells, this last bit of the Christmas season following Epiphany. In the States, with Epiphany celebrated on a Sunday, you get a week of it. Here in Italy, where Epiphany is still celebrated on the traditional sixth of January, you get from zero days to a week in between Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, depending on how things fall.
St. Peter Chrysologus in the Office of Readings today: "In choosing to be born for us, God chose to be known by us."
The Lord's birth is after all something fairly secret; he is born away from home, in an obscure place, to poor parents, to a small people. In the same way the birth of the presence of God within us always has some sense of secret, of an intimacy not easily communicated to others, of something precious and utterly personal.
But secret doesn't mean private. Or what is born in secret the Holy Spirit doesn't mean to remain private. And thus we come to Epiphany, to the Magi. In the same way, the graces that the Holy Spirit conceives in our lives are not only for us, but for offering in service and in helps to the salvation of others. In this way the Holy Spirit conceives us as Christ-ians, those who are in Christ, those who become the members of Christ and instruments of his saving work and his peace.
In the Magi is the first public revelation that Jesus Christ is the God of all, the King of the Universe, as we celebrate him at the other end of the liturgical year. They are the forerunners of all of us who are not descended from the patriarchs by blood, but have been grafted into the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16) in Christ. They are the patron saints of all who surrender to the truth that all human knowledge, all true created wisdom, lead to Christ.
In Christ, all people have been called, invited into the promises made to Abraham. Christ is the beginning of the new creation, his birth a decisive break with the old creation corrupted by sin. This is why he is born of the Virgin, for his birth is a break with the generation of human history. And this is why her Immaculate Conception is the first light of the new creation which dawns in Jesus Christ.
In surrendering the death that is our sin into his death on the cross in our baptism, we have risen again as citizens of the new creation.
Thank you, Father. :)
Indeed, Father, the birth of the presence of God in us is a secret, an intimate thing. Something that it cannot always be communicated to others. But such a beautiful thing that we truly rejoice in it. But we really cannot keep it entirely to ourselves. His presence within us does call us to share Him with others. Immersed in the waters of Baptism, we take on the privilege and responsibility of an apostolic life, to make the Gospel of the Lord known. It occurs to me that in this Year of Mercy, it is an act of mercy to make the Gospel known and loved. Instructing the ignorant, it is called in the spiritual works of mercy. So we must be people of mercy, sharing the Gospel with others by word, and also by the example of our lives.
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