I'm sometimes saddened that the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord gets lost in all the post-Christmas hangover.
Heck, even this post is three weeks late.
But as someone, somewhere once said, late is better than never. So here goes ...
As most of you probably know, there are three Epiphanies that we celebrate on that feast day, and each serves as a powerful moment in time when Christ's Divinity is revealed to mankind.
The visit of the Magi
The baptism in the Jordan
The miracle at Cana
As I spent time reflecting on the power of each of those this month, I kept asking myself one question ... which would I go back to see live, if I could?
After weeks of debating, I know my answer. But I'd love to hear yours.
Would you choose to watch the Magi lay their eyes on the Baby for the first time? To see the expression on their faces when their interpretation was proven correct? To know how long they stayed, what they said, and how many of them there actually were? Or maybe just to see what the whole scene looked like and what was going on around them?
Or would you choose to be there when John baptized our Savior? To see what it looked like when the Heavens opened up? To hear God's voice boom down to His Son? Or perhaps just to see how many others were on hand to witness the event and how they reacted?
What about the wedding at Cana? Would you elect to be there to see Christ's first public miracle? To see how hard his knowing Mother nudged Him? To watch the expression on the servant's face? Or maybe just to see Jesus having fun at a celebration with His friends?
Post your answer in the comments section, and I'll do the same next week. In the meantime, feel free to pass along this question. There are no "rules" to this meme ... just have everyone post their answers in the comments section here so we can read them all and have some fun reflecting on the Glory of our Lord.
A funny thing has happened to me as I've grown in my faith.
Sometimes I feel worse.
Let me explain...
When I was younger, I would show up to Mass each Sunday, put my token offering in the basket, and smile on the way back to my real life. If someone asked if I was practicing Catholic, I responded with an affirmative "why, yes I am! Just ask me on Sunday mornings!"
In retrospect, I was just going through the motions. At Mass and outside Mass.
But I was blissfully doing so. As far as I knew, I was acting just how God wanted me to. In my own ignorant mind, I was an excellent Catholic. Yup ... the Big Guy was surely smiling at me every day ... just pleased as could be.
Fast forward to today - and while I am certainly no model Catholic, I am light years ahead of where young Michael was.
Here is the irony though ...
The more I learn about our our religion and the closer I grow to God, the less blissful I sometimes feel.
Sure, there are times when I am the happiest person on Earth because I can feel God's love.
But there are other times when I sit there and ponder how much I have let Him down. How far I must be from His plan. How disappointed He must be in me every day.
And that is painful.
I didn't feel that way before my journey, of course. I didn't know any better.
Don't get me wrong, I would never go back. Just the opposite, in fact. I'm going to keep limping forward on this long but beautiful path.
But the paradox of it all really hit me this week.
Have any of you felt this?
P.S. In times like these, I like to remind myself how much God loves us no matter what. And this song by Jason Gray is perfect for doing just that. (Bonus points for being one of those catchy songs you can't help but tap your foot to as you sing along ...)
We just completed the Christmas season where we sang of a beautiful star, a Holy Babe wrapped in perfect linens, and a confident, smiling Mary and Joseph. There were angelic shepherds, and perfectly behaved, fragrant sheep and cows. Heck, even a little kid played a catchy little ditty on his drum in the background.
As I wrote earlier, it probably didn't happen like that.
But it just feels all warm and fuzzy when we add some creative touches to it, doesn't it?
Well, perhaps we are doing a disservice to the real story and to our religion.
Anne, who is always teaching me new things, posted an article written by Bishop Hying in which he wrote:
"We cannot romanticize the Christian narrative without decreasing its potent reality. God comes to us in all of the messiness and lunacy of the real world to save us as we are, not to redeem some idealized version of ourselves."
I've been thinking a lot about that over the past two weeks.
The power of the Catholic story shines through most brilliantly in the ugliness of this world, not the cleaned up version of it.
God sent His only Son to us in the remoteness of Bethlehem, not the grandeur of Jerusalem. In a crowded, smelly stable, not a lush palace. And in a world full of sin, not the perfection of Paradise.
Mary and Joseph didn't go from wedding bells to cigars and baby announcements. They struggled with the reality of being chosen. Walked miles and miles through harsh terrain while pregnant. Were chased after giving birth to their Son far away from the "comforts" of home.
And our Savior did not come here on a cloud and banish all His enemies from an Earthly throne. He was born among the animals, grew up in a lowly town, and was beaten and crucified for teaching love.
Bishop Hying is right. Our world is not perfect. It is ugly and full of sin. And our Salvation happened within those realities ... not in some fairy tale we cannot relate to.
Ironically, it is through that lens that our story becomes more powerful, not less so.
(Thanks again, Anne, for that thought provoking post.)