Engaging Faith | Wed, Dec 29, 2010
The Epiphany of the Lord
January 2, 2011
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
January 1: New Year’s Day; Solemnity of Mary; World Day of Prayer for Peace
January 2: The Epiphany of the Lord
January is Poverty in America Awareness Month www.povertyusa.com
January 2-8: National Migration Week: “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.” http://www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw
January 7: Orthodox Christmas
January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
The words of the apostle Paul, “caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5:14), urge us to give ourselves preferentially to our brothers and sisters who are most in need.
Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2007
The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin.
Catholic Catechism, no. 2241
In Christ Jesus "there does not exist among you Jew or Greek, slave or freedom, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus." …. It is in Christ, that the Church finds the central cause for its commitment to justice, and to the struggle for the human right and dignity of all persons.
Brothers and Sisters are Us, US Bishops
“We belong to one human family. As such we have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of all people across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries. In particular, the rich nations have responsibility toward the poor nations, and the structures of the international order must reflect justice.”
Catholic Social Teaching, Our Best Kept Secret, page 24
“In the course of twenty centuries of history, the generations of Christians have periodically faced various obstacles to this universal Mission. Despite such adversities, the Church constantly renews her deepest inspiration, that which comes to her directly from the Lord: To the whole world! To all creation! Right to the ends of the earth! She did this once more at the last Synod, as an appeal not to imprison the proclamation of the Gospel by limiting it to one sector of humanity or to one class of people or to a single type of civilization.”
Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World, Evangelii Nuntiandi
Thoughts for your consideration
In an age of globalization, the celebration of Epiphany takes on more importance than ever. The story of the magi is the story of seekers everywhere who desire a vision that will give light to the world.
The vision of Christ is to provide a light for the whole world. The vision of Christ calls together the whole world and all its peoples. The vision of Christ calls for a healing of divisions and openness to learn from all people. The vision of Christ calls for a just world order – trade policies that respect the economic opportunities of all people especially the poor – immigration policies that are just and respectful of people -- environmental policies that respect the world that we all share together – spending policies that respond to human needs – investment in human needs rather than the weapons of war.
The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to celebrate Jesus who came as a light to all people, not just to some subset of the human race. Thus, the categorical exclusion of anyone contradicts the good news of Jesus Christ. Racism, stereotyping, discrimination, xenophobia, and ethnic violence are all wrong.
The behavior of Herod reflects the behavior of one who is afraid and closed. The news about a new child to be “king” threatens his kingship. Rather than learning from the wisdom of the foreign visitors, Herod is afraid, and seeks to destroy what they came to discover.
The behavior of the foreign visitors or magi is the behavior of those who seek the truth at great cost. The child offers a vision that is worth traveling a long distance to experience. Jesus offers a light that is worth sharing. In the wisdom of a child born in humble circumstances, they find a wonderful light, a good news, and a liberation from sin, injustice, and prejudice.
The foreigners experience the power and the gift of Christ. They also bring gifts with them – gifts that are given to the child but also “gifts” that open our eyes to the experience of the light of Christ as a gift for the whole world. This mutuality is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Giving and receiving happen at the same time. This must be true in our ministry for justice.
The story of the magi has implications for many aspects of church ministry. No one is to be excluded from the light of Christ. Whether we are young or old, female or male, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white, immigrant or native born, from the south or the north, from the east or the west, from a famous school or a very ordinary one, employed or unemployed, healthy or sick, we are all invited to experience the epiphany.
In the United States immigration policies have become a matter of great discussion. Today is the start of National Immigration Week. The Feast of Epiphany invites us to reflect on these issues and reconnect with our church’s teaching on these matters.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you lived outside of our own country or culture?
How did this influence your understanding of Jesus Christ and the gospel?
The good news of Christ is to be good news for the whole world.
Have you ever felt excluded from the good news of Christ?
How did this experience of exclusion come to be healed?
Actions – Links
Ø Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week: “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice,” January 2-8 can be found at the site of the NCCB/USCCB Office for Migration and Refugee Services at http://www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw The USCCB Office for Migration and Refugee Services is at http://www.usccb.org/mrs . Justice for Immigrants: The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform can be found at http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org and includes lots of information and actions steps to be taken. Lots of resources on refugees and immigrants can be found at the web pages of the Jesuit Refugee Service, including lots of educational material at http://www.jrsusa.org
Ø To read Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day of Peace which is 1 January 2011, go to http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20101208_xliv-world-day-peace_en.html
Ø Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has designated January as Poverty Awareness Month. See www.povertyusa.org or http://www.usccb.org/cchd/povertyusa/povamer.shtml
According to the US Census Bureau about 12 percent of the U.S. population today is foreign born; in the early 20th century, that figure was nearly 15 percent.
Justice for Immigrants: The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform provides lots of facts about immigrants in the United States in their piece “Myths about Immigration” at http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/immigration-myths.pdf
“Undocumented immigrants pay taxes. Between 50-75% of undocumented immigrants pay federal, state and local taxes. They also contribute to Medicare and provide as much as 9 billion dollars a year to the Social Security Fund. Further still, undocumented workers pay sales taxes where applicable and property taxes—directly if they own and indirectly if they rent.”
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God of all people, lead us on the road to peace.
For our church that we will be a welcoming community, we pray….
For our nation that we will be a welcoming country, we pray….
For the many refugees struggling to find a safe home in our world, we pray….
For migrants who have left their lands to find new homes and work, we pray….
For all peoples that they may learn a way to welcome and respect new people into their lands, we pray….
For effective dialogue to replace the fighting and barriers between warring peoples, we pray….
For cooperation between all people to bring an end to the abuse of our environment, we pray….
Prayers for Migrants and Refugees can be found at http://www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw/prayers.shtml
in your infinite compassion,
we seek your divine protection for refugee children who are often alone and afraid.
Provide solace to those who have been witnesses to violence and destruction,
who have lost parents, family, friends, home, and all they cherish due to war or persecution.
Comfort them in their sorrow, and bring help in their time of need.
Show mercy to unaccompanied migrant children, too, Lord.
Reunite them with their families and loved ones.
Guide those children who are strangers in a foreign land to a place of peace and safety.
Comfort them in their sorrow, and bring help in their time of need.
Show us how we might reach out to these precious and vulnerable children.
Open our hearts to migrant and refugee children in need,
so that we might see in them your own migrant Son.
Give us courage to stand up in their defense against those who would do them harm.
For this we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
The following is from http://www.diochi.org.uk/content/prayer4.htm and attributed to Pax Christi:
An Inter-faith prayer for peace
God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name for ever.
We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of crisis.
Your power changes hearts.
Muslims, Christians and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God, children of Abraham, brothers and sisters.
Enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.
Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
understanding that puts an end to strife;
mercy that quenches hatred, and
forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love.