Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Little Something Extra...The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

A Prophecy of Joy: A Guided Meditation

Our First Reading today (Isaiah 60:1-6) exudes joy. It overflows with joy. And if we are really listening and striving to comprehend, it should make us joyful, too. 

Take a moment to revisit the first half of the reading:

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears His glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. 

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God tells Jerusalem that a great light has shone upon the city and its people. The glory of the Lord has come. Darkness covers the rest of the earth, all the Gentile nations, but God shines on Jerusalem. By the light radiating from city, other nations will see the truth and come pouring into Jerusalem to meet their Lord.

Now reread the second half:

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

When Jerusalem experiences the influx of the nations, the city will burst out in joy. With an overflowing heart, it will receive tribute from those who arrive. Riches from around the world will flow into Jerusalem. Exotic people will arrive, bearing gold and frankincense, and even more importantly, praising the Lord. 

How do these readings help us understand today's feast of Epiphany? Meditate on the following questions:

1. What is this great light that has come upon Jerusalem? How is God revealing Himself?

2. Why does darkness cover the earth and all the Gentile nations?

3. Why do the Gentiles pour into Jerusalem? What attracts them?

4. Why is Jerusalem so joyful at the arrival of these Gentiles? Is it merely because of the gifts they bring, or is it something more?

5. Why do the Gentiles bring such lavish gifts?

Now take a few minutes and read today's Gospel (Matthew 2:1-12). Then return to the five questions above. How does the Gospel fulfill Isaiah's prophecy of joy? 

Finally, reflect for a few minutes on how these readings apply to you. How does God reveal Himself to you? How do you respond to God's great light? What gifts do you bring to God? Are your lavish with your gifts? Are you a joyful person? Why or why not?

Lord, on this Epiphany, increase our joy. You are our great light, which shines out from Jerusalem, from the New Jerusalem, the Church, to the whole world. Draw us to You. Help us to open our hearts that we may lavish our gifts upon You, especially the gift of ourselves. Amen.

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