Browsing Homilies

The Epiphany of the Lord

Is 60:1-6 | Ps 72 | Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6 | Mt 2:1-12

In the 1993 film, “Rudy,” Rudy isn’t smart enough to get into Notre Dame. He’s too small to play football. Could he make a touchdown for the Fighting Irish in the final game of his senior year? There’s no way. Not a chance.

In the story “Hidden Figures,” Katherine Johnson is a mathematical genius. She works at NASA as a “calculator.” Yet she is a black woman in the early 1960s in America. Could she do the mathematical calculations for John Glenn’s return from orbit? There’s no way. Not a chance.

Or, Russell Crowe in 2005’s “Cinderella Man,” Disney’s 1940 “Dumbo,” or Froddo Baggins in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” We love these underdog stories. These characters full of grit and determination, the ones who weren’t supposed to be there—and then a light shines and someone cracks open a door. The hero or heroine then, ushers through and comes to victory. The elation! The joy! The success!

As we conclude the Christmas season, today’s readings give us other underdog stories. Saint Paul didn’t walk with Jesus. He persecuted Christians. There’s no way. Not a chance. The magi—astrologers from the east, they were not of the Chosen People. How could they ever see the Messiah? There’s no way. Not a chance.

Yet God opens a crack in the door. Light from heaven strikes Paul to the ground. The risen Lord draws him in. In turn, Paul opens the door for those other underdogs, the Gentiles. And now, most of the New Testament is comprised of his writings!

A star in heavens directs the magi to the King of the Jews, and by that light they are overjoyed to see that baby. The elation! The thrill! The success! Unlikely heroes, and we still sing their song, “We Three Kings.”

You and I, we are unlikely heroes and heroines, too. People of faith, in love with the Lord? No way. Not a chance. Yet a light has shone into our darkness, too—a glimmer, a taste of the Holy Spirit, and a touch of glory.

What is your favorite underdog story? Is it from your favorite passage from the Bible, book, or favorite film? Is it your own story, or of someone you love? With whom do you identify most, whom do you root for? Who is it that shines the light, opens the door for you or your hero or heroine? And at the conclusion, what causes you to feel elation and joy at their or your own success?

Sometimes you and I take our Christian faith for granted. Yet glimpses of light have enlightened our darkness. God is faithful. The heavens have opened, and we are allowed to enter. How has that door opened for you? And will you choose to walk through it, and advance in your faith in the year ahead? What realizations and manifestations will you come to understand, and how will you be different one year from now on the feast of the Epiphany?


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