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Feast of The Epiphany - Fr John's Homilies

Feast of The Epiphany
  1. Epiphany is a feast about light! When we have an epiphany, we sometimes call this a “light bulb” moment’. A moment of sudden understanding, of becoming enlightened!

 

  1. We have just heard the proclamation of the fascinating story of mysterious travellers from the East who journey far from their homes, far from safe and known boundaries, in their search for Christ.

 

  1. Over the centuries, imagination and tradition have moulded these travellers into "three wise men," three kings, three astrologers. From the original account there is however, no mention of how many there were. The term "magi" which was later used to describe the mysterious travellers is a term that originally referred to a caste of Persian priests with special claims to interpreting dreams.
  1. The story of the wandering magi points us in the direction of some very powerful and universal spiritual truths. None of which would be obtainable if we stayed on the surface of the story; if our faith was determined by mere literal interpretation; if our faith was blind to the role and power of symbol and metaphor.

 

  1. Deeper meaning is gained by a faith built upon our lived experience of the Risen Christ in the here and now; an experience mediated through our experiences of Self and others, gained as we strive to increasingly open ourselves to that same Spirit of Transformation that infused and flowed from the historical Jesus.

 

  1. I'd like to take some time in exploring this spirit, this Christos, that our brother Jesus embodied and calls each of us to embody. It is a mysterious reality, one often symbolized by light in many of the world's religious traditions.

 

  1. It's also a reality that is part of each one of us, just as surely as it was part of Jesus. And it is this embodiment, this incarnation, which is at the heart of the feast of Epiphany, the feast of manifestation, of the showing forth of the glory of God.

 

  1. This Spirit, this core of divinity within each of us, must be understood primarily in terms of consciousness and wholeness, as opposed to objective infallibility and perfection.

 

  1. With this understanding in mind, we can say that Jesus was divine because of his depth of consciousness with regards to who he knew himself to be; a knowledge that stemmed from his deep awareness of the connection between love of God and love of neighbour.
  2. Throughout the life and ministry of Jesus, he called others to likewise cultivate this depth of consciousness, to recognize and claim, the sacred within themselves; to open themselves up to the sacred's transformative love and to channel that love to others. "I am in God, and God is in me . . . In truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, and will perform even greater works."

 

  1. Our faith calls us to follow Jesus' example of openness and responsiveness to God through prayer, reflection and concern for and action on the behalf of others. Jesus was a historical person, a human becoming; but Christ, the Christos, is an eternal transpersonal condition of being to which we must all someday come.                          

 

  1. Jesus did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him. He called us to share in the new condition, to enter a new world, to incarnate the same spirit he incarnated, to be one in the supramental Christ consciousness that alone can dispel the darkness of our minds and renew our lives.

 

  1. Jesus taught and demonstrated cosmic consciousness, the Christic state of mind, the peace that surpasses understanding, the direct experience of divinity dwelling in us and all things, now and forever; creating us, living us, preserving us, urging us to ever more inclusive states of being.

 

  1. The searching magi serves as a fitting and powerful metaphor for our journey to Christic consciousness. Picture the magi as a caravan comprising people of all races, genders, colours and orientations, bearing their gifts of self, their gifts of symbols; encouraged and empowered by a deep longing for consciousness and wholeness.

 

  1. This yearning that ultimately protects them and us from the unconscious, life-numbing states of being that fear and resist growth and change; states of being that are ultimately egocentric, corrupt and greedy.

 

  1. In today's gospel reading, King Herod serves to illustrate such a state of being and its destructive and life-denying characteristics.

 

  1. But as always, just as there is a part of us that yearns to journey as the magi to find and claim Christ, there's also another part of us which, like Herod, wants things forever comfortable, forever under control, forever stagnant.

 

  1. Yet we can and must overcome such desires, within ourselves and within our church if we are to follow in the example of our brother Jesus and be daily, living epiphanies.

 

  1. What encourages us in such an effort? Well, the quality of the community we keep is of vital significance. And intrinsic to this community are the stories and gifts we share and celebrate as we journey.

 

  1. It's important to recognize and remind each other that as we strive to live more consciously we really do experience, in the words of James White, "a growing wholeness, and increasing sense of the meaning of our individual personality, a realization of new and creative energies, and an expanding consciousness."

 

  1. Like the searching magi of old, we discover that this "conscious living" and ongoing expansion of awareness entails an openness to mystery and to the complexities and paradoxes of human life; a willingness to search and question, and a leaning toward trust rather than fear.

 

  1. Such openness and the new levels of awareness it leads to, impels us beyond our individual ego-existence to an alternative existence wherein one's well-being is sought in harmony with others; an alternative existence accordingly graced by an ever-deepening experience of union with God.

 

  1. Such union is a lifelong process of conversion and rebirth, often understood by the great spiritual traditions as a journey. Participation in this type of journey increasingly enables us to live a loving and creative life in the social sphere; a life that like Jesus' is capable of encouraging and challenging others entrenched in egocentricity, to live their lives more consciously.

 

  1. And finally, it is important to note that the journey of the magi doesn't end at the feet of the infant Jesus, but back in their homelands where, gifted with new, deeper insight and with gifts of discernment and creativity, they are called like us, to manifest Christ. To manifest, in other words, the consciousness and love that is gained as a result of our journeying with one another and with the God who walks in our midst.