YOU SHALL BE RADIANT AT WHAT YOU SEE!
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord(A)
January 2, 2011
Readings: Is 60:1-6 / Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6 / Mt 2:1-12
Counselors like us see it all the time ... faces that speak of delight, of awe, of fear, of worry ... faces that cringe when speaking of sorrow ... faces that open up when speaking of joy ... eyes that twinkle when clients speak of newfound discovery and insight. What they see goes far beyond what they get! When they see (read: gain insight) people change countenance. Their faces become radiant!
As a teacher these past 33 years, and as a perpetual student of human behavior, I see more and more the importance of clues that "body language" gives to us in the helping profession. When people see beyond and see more than meets the eye, their faces glow.
What they see, is also what they show. They see something joyful and hopeful, and their whole countenance adapts to whatever it is they see.
Today, the liturgy speaks of delight ... delight that comes from "the light" that shone in the darkness. Delight follows the witnessing of the light of men that has come into the world. And, if we go by the clues given by Isaiah, this delight is something that cannot be easily contained. Isaiah himself teaches how to deal with delight: "Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you."
I remember vividly one Christmas eve when I was no more than 3-4 years old. Dad was coming home. Santa was bringing me some gift. Among a few other items, I remember there was a blue jacket. That night when Dad came, I was already sound asleep. But I was roused from sleep. I rose to the occasion. And I must have been a picture of delight. I know ... or I would not have even remembered it.
Back in the day when I was national chaplain of the Catholic Scouting Movement, I attended several national jamborees. All of them were different in some senses, but all of them were the same in other senses. And one common point I saw was the excitement in the eyes of about 15,000 scouts from all over the world especially during the grand opening and closing ceremonies.
What they saw, was what they showed! Contingents from all over the country "rose to the occasion" and put their best foot forward. They trooped and marched in ill concealed glee and excitement. Their faces glowed as they aimed for the gold! Surrounded by a sea of multi-colored tents and all the panoply associated with a huge youthful gathering, the scouts and scouters formed a picture reminiscent of what Isaiah speaks about.
But the ultimate was World Youth Day in Manila back in 1995! Close to 5 million people trooped to the Luneta, filled all available thoroughfares surrounding it, and seemed, as far as I am concerned, to be "radiant at what they saw!"
Epiphany has to do with showing, revealing, making known. Epiphany has to do, too, with someone seeing, beholding, and capturing the sights and sounds of what is revealed for all to see. Epiphany is some kind of a gift of sighting. In the divine Epiphany that we celebrate today, God gives a glimpse of who He is. God shows a sliver of what He is for us, a trace of what He is in Himself, and who He is in relation to the external created world.
But the gift of "sighting" won't go very far if it is not accompanied by the mutual gift of seeing. A beautiful view won't count for much if there is no one to see it and appreciate it, even as a song won't ever be a song until it is sung.
Epiphany demands a good eyesight. The epiphany happened because there were wise men who went out in search in the first place. These wise men had an eye for stars that led to something marvelous to behold. They had an eye for a newborn baby boy who was destined for greatness. They saw and they became radiant at what they saw! They were radiant enough for someone like Herod to take notice. Their bodies probably showed in anticipation the glory that they were going to behold in the manger. What they saw in their prophetic vision, showed in their overall, total countenances.
Epiphany is primarily about God showing and revealing Himself in and through Christ, His Son. But epiphany won't be complete epiphany without wise men seeing, and even holier men showing their delight in the light that has come into the world.
Today, I personally would like us all to re-appropriate our childlike capacity for delight, for wonder, and for awe. That capacity for delight has been all but obliterated by envy, jealousy, and selfishness; much like, Herod was eaten up inside by such insecurity and ill-concealed terror at the prospect of a child becoming King of Kings! The wise men wandered and, in their focused wandering, did not lose their capacity for childlike wonder. They saw ... and what they saw shown in the radiance of delight and fitting homage.
In many places all over the world, today is the real day for gift-giving. Children are excited and will "rise to the occasion" like I did many decades ago, as I awaited and beheld the much awaited gift.
Christ has come. Christ has been born. Christ is with us ... Emmanuel. But most of us have lost the capacity to see, and we have ceased our wandering in search for the truth, and our capacity to wonder at the truth that is really staring us in the face.
Let us follow the wise men. Let us emulate the children in their unalloyed capacity for wonder. Let us go on in our search. And let us open our eyes to behold the truth, and thus, take delight in the light that has come to pierce the darkness. And we shall be radiant at what we see!