The Epiphany challenge

- Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - January 4, 2016 - 9:00am

With the celebration of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of Christ, we are actually left with an invitation that can very well be a big challenge for us who profess to believe in Christ. This is none other than the duty to show or reveal Christ, as he is, to others.

This is no mean responsibility to be carried out by us who are his disciples. The ideal to aim at is to have those words of Christ to his disciples said of us as well: "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me. He who rejects me rejects him who sent me." (Lk 10,16)

Epiphany means to manifest or to reveal. It's Christ revealing himself as he is in all his Christological and soteriological nature to the whole world. Making use of the visit of the three kings to the child Jesus, Epiphany is the feast that reminds us that Christ is not only for the Jews but also for everyone, not only for a few but also for all.

It's a feast that reminds us that Christ is the Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity who became man for our salvation. He is actually everything to us. He is the way, the truth and the very life for us. He is the very pattern of our humanity. How we ought to be is defined for us by him.

So, this is the big challenge. How can we present Christ to others as he is with our presence, words and deeds? A tall order, indeed!

I remember that back in 2000, the Vatican issued a document, "Dominus Iesus" (The Lord Jesus) that talked about the "unicity and the salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church." It was penned by then Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI, with the approval of St. John Paul II.

The purpose of the document was to show Christ as the lone mediator between God and man, and "the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church of this salvation." The aim was to show that the belief of the Catholic Church in Jesus Christ is based on Christ as having the fullness of truth and revelation.

Judging on the reactions and reviews of it, especially by the secular press, the document did not make waves, indicating the difficulty this effort of showing Christ to the world met.

I was not surprised by that development since even in the story of the three kings, difficulties and dangers abounded their effort to find Christ. Herod even attempted to trick the three kings. And when he was frustrated by them, he went into a rampage of killing the holy innocents.

This business of showing Christ to the world and finding him is not going to be an easy task. We have to expect difficulties, but remain calm and hopeful, since God does not abandon us. Yes, there are a lot of skeptics, and worse, people who are hostile to the idea of the spiritual and supernatural life, but God knows what to do with them.

But the truth about Christ as the lone mediator between God and us, and our duty to show him to the whole world, are not and should not be undermined by these difficulties and dangers.

This task simply has to be done the way Christ himself did it-quietly but consistently, with words and deeds, unafraid of sacrifices and even death on the cross, all done in the spirit of love.

Everything has to start with showing love and affection to everyone, including those who may not love us, because that is how we can be known to be truly Christian. Christ himself said: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (Jn 13,35)

This is the secret of tackling the Epiphany challenge. We just have to show love and affection to everyone, doing it with consistency and starting with little details of understanding and compassion. And from there and making it a foundation of the other things we need to do, let us undertake the bigger demands of love.

We have to do a lot catechesis and evangelization, reaching out to more and more people. We have to humanize and Christianize the different structures of society-political, economic, cultural. Let us undertake personal apostolate, starting with the family and radiating to ever wider circles of society. We have to sanctify whatever work we do.

This way, we can manage to show Christ to all.



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