Reflections on the Readings
The Epiphany of the Lord - January 4 - Year B
Thy Perfect Light
When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
King Herod was not as thrilled about the Star of Wonder as the Magi. For the Magi, the Star in the heavens was a guiding light. To Herod it was frightful news and prompted him to ask the religious authorities where the Christ was to be born. Herod was a ruthless leader and power hungry enough to kill members of his own family including his wife whom he suspected were undermining his throne. So he was not happy about the Star in the heavens nor the Morning Star born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Light is important. Any room or space is improved when adequate lighting is installed. I remember my daddy saying that when I was trying to update some lighting in a little Assemblies of God church I pastored many years ago in Greensburg, Indiana. Outdated lighting in the classrooms, fellowship, and worship areas made those spaces feel gloomy and uninviting. What a difference the new and improved lighting made. When people are coming in from a world of temptation and trial, the last thing they need is the inside of the house of worship dull and drab.
In our modern way of living, we mostly take light for granted. Flip a switch here or point a remote there, and Voila! Headlights, automatic lights, motion lights, lights on timers, everywhere we go we have the light we need to function wherever we need it.
Even the light named the "greater light" to rule the day, comes up and on every morning. We give little thought to it, if any, and never have to ask or wonder if it is not going to work tomorrow when we go to bed at night. But did you know that it takes about 8 minutes and 20 seconds for the light of the sun to reach us? That means that if the sun were to turn off as it were, it would be about 500 seconds later before we would grab a sweater and a flashlight. The Light of Christ, that Perfect Light, has been shining in our world now some 2,000 years, and many do not yet know that it's not dark anymore!
Gifts of love have been given and received this Christmas season. Today we celebrate the greatness of that Perfect Light that drew the Magi to himself - for in Him is life, and his life is the light of all mankind - the greatest gift of all. (John 1:4) The mystery of that Perfect Light is that it is the gift with a name tag on which we may find the name of every person, regardless of race, age, creed, color, sexual orientation, or gender - for we all have sinned and need a Savior. St. Paul speaks of the mystery and stewardship of grace entrusted to the holy apostles and prophets. He explains the mystery to mean that all may partake of the promise of Christ, and all are welcome in the same body of Christ.
With devotion like that of the Magi, may we also come to that Perfect Light, and worship Jesus with gifts of ardent love and faith, and the sweet aroma of the sacrifice of praise. Amen.
Dennis Hankins, a Catholic Evangelist, is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com