Sunday, January 8; Solemnity of the Epiphany

In an essay called, “The Time of No Room” (from his collection, “Raids on the Unspeakable”) Thomas Merton writes:

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited.

After their long journey, the Magi arrive uninvited and as they stand in Herod’s presence, inquiring about a “newborn king”.  Herod finds such news unsettling; news that threatens this very insecure man.  Talk of another king leaves Herod and all Jerusalem “greatly troubled” as heard in the gospel this Epiphany (Matthew 2:1-12).  Demented as he was such news must have come uninvited and threw into question Herod’s control and own sense of self.    We come to see, and as the gospel unfolds, that there is absolutely no room for this kind of news and why he’s intent on destroying the child.

This mentality still exists in this sometimes demented world as we ponder the devastation happening in Syria and during Assad’s regime:  the deaths of innocent women, men and children destroyed, buried beneath the rubble of his own making.  It continues in the land of Jesus’ birth with the belligerent building of Israeli settlements, leaving little peace and no room for Palestinians; a mentality intent on destroying any hope for a two-state resolution.  Palestinians continue to be uninvited and unwelcome; like the newborn that threatens Herod.  Herod’s controlling mentality continues in the demented logic that often surrounds issues on human life and its inherent dignity as well as in all this talk about building a wall.  How uninviting is that?  There continues to be no room for those others who supposedly threaten our way of life.  I admit such issues are complex.  But building walls is never the answer.  As followers of this newborn king we ought to be more intent on building bridges and fostering a “culture of encounter” as Pope Francis has reminded us.

And where do we stand?  Do we make room for Christ who continues to make his way into our world uninvited?  In a Christmas reflection, the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero said that Jesus—this peasant from Nazareth—comes still as a peasant whom we fail to recognize; “who became flesh to save all human flesh”.  And Romero continues:

The Spirit is not the monopoly of a movement, even of a Christian movement, of a hierarchy, or priesthood, or religious congregation.  The Spirit is free…

The Spirit makes all things new.  We are those who grow old, and we want everyone made to our aged pattern.

That was Herod’s controlling and murderous mentality:  threatened as he was by this newborn and the newness God wanted; even now.  Within ourselves sometimes there is little, if any, room for the unsettling message of the gospel meant to bring us to our knees; like the Magi who prostrate themselves before this peasant child who, by this birth, ushers in a new reign of being.   The presence of this child, when we take it all to heart, will open and change us; like the Magi who open their gifts and return to their native country by another way, never quite the same again.  The writer Philp Yancey concludes “that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog” by the birth of Christ. 

Obviously, Herod was tilted in one direction; the Magi in another.  What about us?  Will we allow the light and grace of Christ’s birth to ‘lay us low’ that we might finally see as God sees?

Father Tim Clark, Pastor

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!