May the Light of All Nations give you radiant hope!
The Feast of the Epiphany is special to all of us who were never born Jewish because the promised Messiah came as the fulfillment of God’s love and mercy toward all people. St. Paul assures the Ephesians that they too, non-Jewish people, are coheirs equal in dignity as members of the one body sharing in the one promise of Christ through the Gospel. As I write this I have to admit that because I was born and raised Catholic, I really can’t imagine what it would be like to never have the Light of Christ; i.e., to never have known about Jesus or heard his teaching. However, I do recognize the increasing importance of our faith in my own life’s journey. Perhaps, like the story shows, the light of Christ increases with age and wisdom!
For many, the light of faith does not appear until later in life and once recognized, they follow it to discover God’s tender mercy, love and salvation. I just read one such story. Brother Joseph Dutton was born in 1843 and became a Union soldier in the Civil War while yet a teenager. Most of his military career involved caring for the sick and burying the dead. Joseph did fall in love and married but was divorced less than a year later. For Joseph, the trauma of war and divorce took their toll and the darkness swallowed him as he turned to alcohol for the next ten years. Eventually someone gave him a Bible and as he studied it, he recognized that he was wasting his life. He decided to change. In 1883, on his 40th birthday he was baptized Catholic and a short time later entered a Trappist monastery. Joseph left the monastery and after reading an article about Fr. Damien’s work with the lepers of Kalaupapa he boarded a ship and sailed to Molokai. Br. Joseph cared for Fr. Damien and the lepers until he himself died in 1931 (not from leprosy). The point is Br. Joseph found Christ the true light and followed him. In doing this, he became a light to those who knew him. If people today are to find their way through the spiritual darkness of our world to the infant lying in the manger, it will be through the faith and example of God’s people, who busy themselves with living out the Gospel and bear Christ’s light! The Wise Men followed a star, Jesus has made each of us more than a star; we are vessels of his very own light and as we follow Christ the true light, we show and share it with others!
May Christ’s light be manifest through you! +++ Fr. Peter