January 15, 2023

II Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A
Fr. Jon Reardon

An ‘Epiphany’ is defined as ‘a sudden revelation’ or ‘insight’. It comes from the Greek ‘epiphanein’ … Epi – meaning ‘on top of’ and ‘phanein’ – meaning ‘appear/show’ … Putting them together we get the real meaning of epiphany – revealing something of enormous significance. For the Magi first it was the Star … Then it was Jesus – the Baby Jesus … they were looking for a king but they found a Baby… It was intense. Life altering. For John the Baptist, it was not the Baby Jesus but the adult Jesus – His own cousin. At the baptism in the Jordan River it was revealed … the Spirit rested on Jesus and the voice came: “this is my beloved Son” … That was John’s ‘epiphany’ – His encounter with the Messiah. His cousin. That had to be an intense moment … Think about a relative of yours you would least expect to become a priest, a nun – that was me in my family – it would be quite the revelation! For John… this was a revelation of something of enormous significance … His cousin is the Messiah.

          The Scriptures tell us that after His baptism Jesus went out to the desert for 40 days and was tempted by the devil. That brings us to the Gospel of today … assuming that He has just returned from the desert … He is back at the Jordan River with John – and John makes that famous declaration – one that we hear at every Mass: “Behold, the Lamb of God …” In other words – “there!” It isn’t just that he remembered, it was so much more than that … He had an epiphany … it was an encounter. It was powerful and deeply personal. It is altogether interesting because John tells us that he didn’t know Jesus. We can assume that because they were cousins that he had to at least known who Jesus was … But what he means is that he did not know Jesus’ real identity … at least not until this powerful, profound, and deeply personal encounter. This was John’s epiphany. And it is the reason why he could point to Jesus now and say: there He is! Only after he encounters Jesus in the reality of who Jesus’ really is – only then can John point Him out, only then can John bear true witness …

          Friends, we can know so much about Jesus. We can study Him, research Him, write about Him… all without knowing Him. Perhaps we need an ‘epiphany’ – a sudden revelation also. We need Jesus to make Himself appear once again so that we can know Him… Yet, we forget that He does that at every Mass. Right here, in this place, in our own time Jesus appears to us! This offering of the Mass is our encounter with the Lord. It is powerful, it is profound, and deeply personal… You see because unlike His appearance to the Magi, unlike His encounter with John, Jesus enters our very hearts, minds and souls by means of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion … He gets right into us. We are closer to Him now than they were then… Think about that … We are closer to the Lord now, right now, than they were … But Jesus does not enter closed doors … He does not force Himself in … we have to let Him. You see, the difference between the Magi, John and ourselves is that they searched for Him – they were looking for Him… I think at times we stop looking, we close our eyes, we don’t want to see… We don’t want Him to appear… But like John… the only way we can bear witness to Him, the only way we can reflect Him in our lives is by opening up our hearts to Him… look for Him … we have to want to see – and that leads to our own spiritual epiphany when the Lord reveals to us something of enormous significance – His presence among us in the Eucharist. Don’t close your eyes. Don’t close your hearts … Don’t miss His appearance among us today.

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