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Friday, January 28, 2011

BLESSED ARE YOU!

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
January 30, 2011


The first reading from the Prophet Zephaniah seems like an acceptance of what is, a copping out to what is inevitable, a surrendering to what is ineluctable. Zephaniah speaks of a remnant, a few brave and steadfast souls, who will be a “people humble and lowly,” and who will “take refuge in the Lord.”

I cannot but reflect on these words as I listened for a short while to whatever new Senate investigation (among many fruitless ones) was going on yesterday in the Philippines. As I heard the unexplainable amnesia of certain bigwigs of the Philippine armed forces, “the few, the brave, the chosen,” a growing sense of frustration and anger was welling up from within me. Isaiah’s words rang true. There is but a tiny remnant left in the sea of teeming humanity, created in God’s image and likeness,  that seems to fit the mold of a “people humble and lowly.” There is but a few now that can be singled out from the ranks of the bold and the brazen, who will take to heart the prophet’s vision of this same few “taking refuge in the Lord.”

Numerically speaking at least, you who are in Church today, belong to the few “remnants.” If we go by absolute numbers alone, no more than 20% of us Catholics regularly go to Sunday Mass all over the country. And as if to add more bite to this miserable count, a number of them don’t really go to Church. They go to Malls and the new cathedrals of commerce, where they can be cool and comfy and cozy, and post-Mass, go direct to pursue their Sunday leisure of window shopping, eating, and getting oneself pampered by what their limited budgets could allow them (that is, if no new bombings take place before one even reaches his or her destination).

But let us move elsewhere and focus our gaze on other countries where the “remnants” are in far worse shape than we are. In Iraq, in certain places in India, in Israel, in Lebanon, and in other places dominated by other religions, the few remaining brave souls who stick it out with the Lord where they were born, where they grew up and where they learned what is left of their Christian faith, the few remnants are being persecuted, harassed, and bullied out of their ancestral dwellings. Religious tolerance, the passionate plea of religious leaders who see first-hand the deplorable situation where their flocks live, is nothing but a word and a beautiful concept, very far from reality  in these places.

Although by no means deserving of it, I see and feel myself one with you, one with the “remnants” that Zephaniah speaks about. I ally myself with you, who now feel probably so alone, so bereft of a sense of security and assurance that the next bus I take, the next train ride, or the next  airplane flight you will take, will not go the way of cold police statistics!

I ally myself with you who feel the need to be reminded, that whether few or many, those “remnants” are declared “blessed” for reasons that are patently out of this world!

After a reality check done by Zephaniah, we declared in no uncertain terms: BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!

Social scientists now speak of a progressive digital rewiring of the minds of children being born in the digital age. Such rewiring goes a long, long way in terms of far-ranging repercussions. Value systems are changed. Mores and customs are redefined. Relationships between persons are re-engineered, and the perception of what is right or wrong is turned upside down. The world of social networking, for one, has redefined the concept of “friend.” Exhibitionism or the desire to flaunt one’s real or imagined physical assets has reached a level never before reached, thanks to these social networking sites, where privacy has been relegated to a few choices in a pull-down menu from one’s personal account. One can be a closed-book to the rest of the world, but perfectly an open-book with no holds barred whatsoever to one’s circle of friends. A report I read the other day suggests that in a region of the Philippines where once there were plenty of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, has all but dried up in these recent years. The culprit? The onset of cable TV!
In this world of instant and online connectivity, where children are bombarded with sound bytes and images galore of the “good life” as lived in affluent and developed countries; in our country where there are Little Italys and Little Japans, and little pockets of untold affluence and comfort, the phenomenon of thieving generals and forgetful accomplices who shared in the loot of the land, for decades, do not anymore scandalize  the digitally rewired kids who can’t tell right from wrong, but who know what is an opportunity if they see one, and who would definitely not pass off such opportunity to make a fast buck himself, make a killing, even at the expense of disposable “friends” in Facebook and the like.

Let us be more direct … The world now does not believe that being “poor and humble” is something that merits being called “blessed.”

But today, allow me to do some “prophetic criticizing.” Like Zephaniah did. Like Paul did. Zephaniah in the end does not really capitulate to what is reality unfolding. Zephaniah was doing some version of “prophetic criticizing” and “prophetic energizing.” Prophetic criticizing … only a few, he says, will remain, “the remnant.” Prophetic energizing … “seek the Lord all you humble of the earth … seek justice, seek humility …”

Paul’s prophetic criticizing … let us face ourselves for who and what we are: “not many were wise; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth.” Prophetic energizing … “God chose the weak; God chose the foolish; God chose the lowly and despised of the world.”

This is us. This is me. This is all of us, from among the few, the forgotten, and perhaps, the forlorn. I make no secrets about it. I am sad. I am disappointed. I am even angry at everything’s that’s going on. I am angry that foreign terrorists come here to kill and maim innocent people – the few and forgotten ones who only want to live a peaceful and decent life. I am angry that thieving politicians and greedy generals are making a killing receiving” welcome and parting gifts” that no ordinary man, woman from the hoi polloi could even dream of having in their entire lifetimes! I am despondent that, as usual, those who pay the highest price are the poor, the lowly, the simple, the humble, and the ignorant – the rest of us who are not well connected enough, or well placed enough in the rungs of the social ladder as to be totally clueless about how the irresponsible “public servants” are dividing the spoils that really belong to the people!

We need to spiritually rewire our digitally rewired brains and minds who find nothing wrong anymore in corruption and who have made a peace pact with a structurally unjust situation in our country. The Gospel speaks of this as METANOIA, a change of mind and a change of heart. And we need to start where it is at – where the battle is at – in the level of the human heart of each and everyone of us.

Yes … US! You and I. The Lord declares us, poor, powerless, forgotten, and forlorn people as blessed. But God calls us blessed not just because we are poor or powerless. In his own version of prophetic energizing, Christ the Lord declares us blessed, because, being poor, we know better than to rely solely on our power, but on the power of Him who can raise up and pull down. We are blessed because we know better than to make of ourselves, our gadgets, and our materialistic dreams and desires the ultimate. We are blessed because, being finite, limited, and weak, we find in God our strength, our hope, our salvation!

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

BREAKING THE YOKE; SMASHING THE ROD!


3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
January 23, 2011

Readings: Is 8:23 – 9:3 / 1 Cor 1:10-13,17 / Mt 4:12-17


We simply cannot have enough of the Christmas spirit. Three weeks into ordinary time, just after the Christmas season (a long, long one in the Philippines!), we hear echoes of what we reflected on a whole lot, weeks and days before, during, and after Christmas (with an extra day to boot for us Pinoys, given the last hurrah we did on Santo Nino day, last Sunday!). The first reading once more speaks of light that shone in the darkness. Oozing with optimism, Isaiah prophesies what we long for and expect, in the spirit of Christian hope. He speaks of yokes on our shoulders being taken away, and rods of taskmasters being smashed. Anguish, he adds, will take wing, and darkness will be no more.

As I write, I am tying to get a grip of the multiplicity of “yokes, poles, and rods” that an equally seemingly infinite number of “taskmasters” impose on so many peoples. I am trying to make sense of the so many forms of “darkness” that cover a great part of the world and humanity at large. And as I cast my reluctant glances at what is happening all over the world – in “real time,” – that is, even now as I write, it is hard to wax as optimistic as Isaiah. It is difficult to see the mismatch between the revelry that we did last Sunday, the flashy celebrations we held last Christmas, and the exuberant and enthusiastic – even somber, if not, bizarre celebrations we did in honor of the Black Nazarene two weeks ago (in Manila and several places now in the Philippines!), on the one hand, and the irresponsibility of people in top leadership, the hatred and intolerance for Christians in other lands, and the so many “natural” tragedies taking place in so many places all over the world, on the other hand.

Let us not mince words … The people might have seen a great light, but the darkness of sin still envelops the world of which we are a part.

But before you give me up as bad job and refuse to listen to this prophet of doom, please read on. Please continue to give me a hearing. For, like Isaiah, my task is to help you make sense of what takes place, to help you make “a fusion of horizons,” in the hope that even the “human horizon” of darkness, sinfulness, and evil, can be made sense of vis-à-vis the “divine horizon” of salvation and God’s call to holiness.

We live at a time when people are very choosy. We choose to heighten one aspect of the same message and ignore the other part of the same exact message. We hear the good news of prosperity, but not the good news of adversity. We listen to the good news that refreshes, but the not the good news that pushes for more self-responsibility. We love to reflect on the light that shines, but not on the darkness that needs to be worked on. For the most part, we Catholics belong to what pastoral theologians call “cafeteria catholics” – Catholics in name who take their pick from a smorgasbord and believe only what suits their fancy!

Isaiah was right speaking about the degradation of the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. He means it when he speaks of light shining in the darkness. It happened and got fulfilled in the birth of the Savior, in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

But Paul was right, too, in pushing the product of responsible freedom, in making a pitch for unity, and in talking about the good news of the cross, and the meaning of salvific pain and suffering. “For Christ,” he said, “did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.”

How now do we empty the cross of its meaning? Simple … Just ignore the cross altogether and remain in the mold of being simply “fair weather Christians,” Christians who choose only the news that refreshes, and not the news that pushes them to responsibility.

The Corinthians of old were just like us … fractious, contentious, divisive and divided. The Corinthians were what we are now … choosy, politically diverse, doctrinally disjointed. The darkness of sin has been there … then, not just now. Here where we stand, and not only in that “sinful structure” called politics and government everywhere.

It must have been nice for Jesus to have remained in cozy, homely, and nurturing Nazareth, never far from relatives and friends and supportive co-villagers. It must have been nice to choose to stay within his comfort zone, and just select the “sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice” associated with a “tinsel-and-foil-Christmas” that makes no demands from anyone other than saccharine sentimentalism.

But the good news that Isaiah spoke of, the good news that Paul refers to, is not one to evade and avoid Zebulun and Naphtali at all costs. No … the good news of salvation demanded that He take the bull by the horns and go head-on to that notorious land of Capernaum, where the mission needed to take root, where it needed to make headway, where the people, like the Corinthians … like US, you and I, here and now, are enveloped in the darkness of neo-paganism, hedonism, and misguided sense of personal freedom (otherwise known as cafeteria Catholicism!).

The drama is set. John the Baptist has been beheaded. The easiest thing for Jesus to do was run away. But no! He went right to the heart of disbelief and darkness – the land of Zebulun and Naphtali.

This is where we Christian Catholics are now called to. Reality is far too actual to miss. We live in an anti-Christian culture, thanks to fellow Catholics like us, who follow more the gospel that refreshes, rather than the gospel that pushes. But we need to take our cue from one who left kith and kin, coziness and comfort, apparent security and surety, and went smack into the world of action, where darkness and despondency seem to rein supreme, where the yokes and poles of disbelief need to be broken, and rods of ungodly taskmasters need to be smashed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

THAT SALVATION MAY REACH TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time(A) / Feast of the Santo Nino (Philippines)
January 16, 2011

Readings: Is 49:3,5-6 / 1Cor 1:1-3 / Jn 1:29-34 (2nd Sunday)
or Is 9:1-6 / Eph 1:3-6,15-18 / Mt 18:1-5,10 (Feast of the Santo Nino)


I write from atop my perch over at Maloloj, at the Archdiocesan Retreat House of Guam. Working during the break from the proceedings of the clergy convocation, I find myself experiencing writer’s block, feeling myself totally devoid of all inspiration, inside my aircon-less room in the hot sultry Guam weather at its worst in early afternoon.


My attention is occasionally captured by the placid sea just a couple of hundred feet from my window, out into the open Pacific, where storms that hit the Philippines or go to the northwesterly direction, are spawned. The sea reminds me of the vastness not only of creation but the vastness of the mission that we members of the clergy are indirectly talking about, even if it were not the primary agendum of the convocation.


Isaiah speaks of God’s dream. He writes about His vision of a servant, who would work so that Israel might be brought back and gathered once more to Him. He pines for restoration. He refers to survivors, and he conjures up images of a “light to the nations,” all for the focused goal and end – that His salvation might reach to the ends of the earth.”


The whole Catholic world has now set its sights to some other aspect of the mystery of salvation, although in the Philippines, Catholics enjoy some kind of a last hurrah for the Christmas mystery, celebrating as they do, the feast of the Holy Child, the Santo Nino. In a peculiar twist of the power of culture to influence even the most logical theological and liturgical principles, the Philippines celebrated in several places, last Sunday, not the Baptism of the Lord, but the feast of the Black Nazarene. Illogical ... Unsound liturgically speaking ... and perhaps to some quarters, even theologically bizarre!


But in the long run, we celebrate a God of wonders, a God of multi-faceted mystery ... a God who wrought for us, one and only one dream – our salvation! This is the overweening focus of God. This is the overriding dream of one whose sole desire, right from the moment Adam and Eve lost their bearings, is so that His “salvation might reach to the ends of the earth.”


This dream led Him to choose men to accomplish this goal. Isaiah refers to the servant, a mysterious figure that was gradually revealed to be the Son whose birth we celebrated last Christmas, whose childhood is now celebrated with so much fanfare all over the Philippines. This is the same dream brought to partial realization in and through Paul the Apostle, who now writes to the recalcitrant Corinthians, the object of his predilection.


The dream is the same one made possible by John the Baptist, ever the best supporting actor of sorts, who did his bit role, but whose effects still ripple greatly in the life of the Church, and the trajectory of the history of salvation.


His job was to point to and make known the promised Servant of Yahweh; his task to make Him increase, and to make himself decrease. His mission was to lay down the groundwork so that the mission of the Messiah is given a headstart, much like the excited throngs in the Philippines who carry the statue of the Santo Nino, as if to make him known to the world as the Son ... Yes ... and Savior of the world, even in the humility and weakness of his childhood. This is much like the millions of Filipinos (admittedly with a good number of them bordering on the fanatic), who claim the power of salvation from a weak and bloodied and humiliated Black Nazarene!


But today, we must take the cue from John the Baptist. He knew whom he prepared for. He knew whom he served. The Servant of all, the would be suffering Servant of Yahweh, is now proclaimed by him: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”


Devotees of the Santo Nino in the Philippines need to go beyond fanfare. Fanatic hordes of Filipinos who risk life and limb by joining the 17-hour procession, who suffer hunger and thirst just to touch the rope and get near the statue, need to go beyond shallow fanaticism bordering, too, on the superstitious, and proclaim a God of wonders, a God of mystery, whose power and mission is revealed in weakness, in suffering, in humility, and simplicity as a child, as suffering servant, par excellence, bruised and bloodied while carrying the cross.


We need to do a John the Baptist. More than joining hordes of people in a frenzy of devotion, he quietly proclaimed. He quietly acclaimed the one who is to come. And after pointing out to people who the much awaited one is, he quietly receded into anonymity, even to the ultimate anonymity of death by martyrdom. “He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.”


In the end, whatever it is we celebrate today, the feast of the Santo Nino, the 2nd Sunday of ordinary time, or basking yet in the afterglow (or hangover) of a frenzied celebration in Quiapo, Manila of the Black Nazarene (and in several other places now in the Philippines), what really matters is whether we know Him who was proclaimed by John, whether we are close to Him who was acclaimed by the masses as the awaited Savior, even in the lowliness of his childhood (Santo Nino). What in the end matters is whether what the Suffering Servant, the Black Nazarene, suffered and died – and lived – for, bears fruit now in a people who go beyond emotion and practice true devotion; who go beyond fanaticism, and live in such a way that His salvation reaches to the ends of the earth.


It was God’s dream. It was the servant’s mission. It was the mission, too, of Paul, of John the Baptist. And it is now our mission. As I end this reflection to join the rest of my brother clergymen of Guam for the afternoon session of the day, I cast one last glance at the placid and vast ocean, out to the boundless east, and am reminded that God’s dream is now our mission – that his salvation might reach to the ends of the earth, beginning here on our little island, on our little flocks, on our little and big concerns.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MY SERVANT WHOM I UPHOLD!


Baptism of the Lord(A)
January 9, 2011

Readings: Is 42: 1-4, 6-7 / Acts 10:34-38 / Mt 3:13-17


We haven’t quite recovered yet from all the glitter and glamour, the glare and the glimmer of the big Christmas festivities. It is hard to think of the feast of the baptism of the Lord as anything less than what we have sort of gotten used to over the long Christmas celebrations.

But the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is not any less than the rest of the celebrations of the Christmas season, although totally ignored by mainstream media. It is a step forward, not backward. It brings in more, not less. It increases, not diminishes, our understanding of who Christ is, for us … for the world … for the Church! For it is part, no less, of the overall Christmas mystery of the Incarnation. It is part and parcel of the mystery, too, of God’s gradual self-revelation to the world, the Epiphany, which we celebrated just last Sunday.

Liturgy is faith coming alive in sign, song, symbol, ritual, and celebration. Liturgy is faith bursting forth in common prayer, and despite the seeming lack of the trimmings and trappings of the more solemn celebration of the birth of the Lord, every feast, every solemnity, every obligatory memorial, and ferial day Mass – everything we do in the Liturgy, adds a little more to that core body of beliefs that we, as Catholics hold as revealed.

The Christmas mystery is not only all about birth in a manger, surrounded by animals, and heralded by angels. This is the poetry of Christmas!

The Christmas mystery is not only all about wise men bringing gifts from afar, guided by a star. This is the pageantry of Christmas.

For beyond the poetry and pageantry is a deep and meaningful mystery that is explained by an equally meaningful theology – a theology that is lived, a theology that is celebrated, and a theology that is proclaimed and acclaimed in common prayer and common ritual, in sign, symbol, and song – and more! In the Liturgy, we remember. In the Liturgy, we celebrate. In and through the Liturgy, we believe.

What then is the sliver of our belief system that shines out in this celebration? Wherefore celebrate? What do the readings teach us about who Christ is for us?

The first reading gives the opening salvo in this unfolding, ongoing self-revelation of God to us. Isaiah speaks of “servant,” a servant who is lifted up, a servant that later on in the tradition of Isaiah, will be known as the "suffering servant," a man who, with gentleness and kindness, will save the world.

When the poetry and pageantry of Christmas is long gone, this is what is given to us in the more sedate feast of the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. God is manifested. God is revealed to all men, beyond the shepherds, beyond the wise men from the east. God is not only revealed as God. He is also revealed as man, as "servant" who puts the values of this world upside down, and, as "suffering servant" will save his wounded people by being wounded, derided, cursed, and defiled himself.

The Baptism of the Lord is a story of the unexpected. He, the Word, through whom everything came to be, subjected himself to the forerunner John, and thus sanctified the waters of the Jordan, by asking to be baptized by John.

This, too, is a story of reversals. He who was worshiped by the wise men now puts himself under the ministry of John, and showed us for all time, that it is never ungodly to come down to our level; that the Incarnation is not just a deep mystery to fathom, but a palpable reality to acknowledge.

The Baptism of the Lord is a story of prodigality ... The Word incarnate who was with God from the very beginning, allows himself to be ushered into public life with a simple ritual by the banks of the Jordan river. He who was timeless and eternal, assumed an earthly beginning in time - the prodigality of a God who comes down to fully be one with suffering humanity.

He made a big difference in our human lives. He made a dent, and not just gave a message that grows stale with time. He came not just for a visit. He came to change the course of our lives, ironically, by joining us in the journey of earthly life, from the Jordan, to Caphernaum, to Jerusalem, all the way up to Calvary and the glory of the resurrection.

This is all a lesson for me on humility, on taking the back seat, on being considered at some point in time, as a "has-been." Yes, "been there; done that" has bloated men's egos disproportionately. We have grown too big for our breeches. A little success has gone into our heads. I see it everywhere ... I see elders of covenanted communities staying up there in the pinnacles of what they call "service" but from which they never want to come down. I see it in individuals who, after gaining a little knowledge, have become for all intents and purposes, dangerous beings. I see it in myself ... I see it in my fear and terror at being at some point in time, to be shunted aside for the sake of what I call "upstarts" who are pulling the rug from under my feet. I see it in government. I see it in the Church that I love - the jockeying for positions, the politics, the manipulation and the machination, the crab mentality that prevents us from doing a John who knew what it means to take a back seat: "He must increase, but I must decrease!"

Gone now are the poetry and pageantry of Christmas. Today, in fact, ends the Christmas season. The mystery of it all beckons us to ponder, but the palpable reality of God's humble prodigality in the Baptism of the Lord, calls us all to task ... to make a difference in people's lives, to dare to be different and not follow the bandwagon of success, fame, wealth, and power. The prodigality of God's humility in Christ His Son, convicts us, and teaches us to learn the path that leads to humble acceptance that we are not the center of the world, that it is not up to us to put ourselves atop pedestals and declare ourselves worthy of acclaim and adulation.

No ... it is God who lifts up "servants." It is God who lifts up the lowly to high places. Like He did with His Son, who, in the prodigality of humility at his baptism, was declared: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!"

Saturday, January 1, 2011

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!