Solemnity of the Epiphany

Today is the Solemnity of the Epiphany, when the Church celebrates the arrival of the magi to bestow their gifts and their adoration on the infant Jesus.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him. …

“And lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, til it came to rest over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him.  Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:1-2, 9b-11

We are all on a journey to find Jesus.  We follow the light God gives us.  What is that light?  Is it the light of faith?  Yes, of course.  But, not the light of our faith.  We follow the light that is the faith of the Apostles.  The faith of the Church, and the faith of each individual believer, is the faith of the Apostles.

I would dare say that for most moderns the most important religious question is: “What do I believe about God?”  That seems, at first glance, a reasonable starting point.  First and foremost, I need to figure out what I believe about God, then I can discern and ascertain the kind of life God wants me to live.  That makes sense, right?

For the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church, however, the question: “What do I believe about God?” is absurd.  Who cares what I believe about God?  I might be wrong.  For the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church, the first and only most important religious question is: “What has God revealed to us about Himself and about our relationship with Him?”

I recall a combox conversation I had some years ago with a reader of my articles at the Knoxville News Sentinel.  He shared with me, with evangelical fervor, what he believed about Jesus, which had little resemblance with the Church’s faith in Jesus.  I don’t recall his name, but let’s say it was “Tim.”  I told him that I wasn’t interested in being a “Tim Christian.”  He said he had no intention of making me so, but that he hoped that I might be a “Bob Christian.”  A Bob Christian!  “Horrors!” I replied.  “No one is saved by the gospel of Bob, least of all Bob.”

Our contemporary culture has little confidence that there is a God.  If there is a God, there is little confidence that we can know Him; little confidence that we can know the truth about God.  But, one of the most unique and ostentatious claims of the Judeo-Christian tradition is our confidence, not only that there is a God, but that we can know the truth about God because God has revealed His truth to us.  And, what is the instrument of God’s revelation to us?  The Church (Eph 3:8-10; 1 Tm 3:15).  The Apostles.  Our faith is the faith of the Church.  Our faith is the faith of the Apostles.

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8-9).

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied in you in the knowledge of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pt 1:1-2).

We follow the light of God’s revelation.  The instrument of God’s revelation is the Church.  The faith of the Church is the faith of the Apostles.  We follow the faith of the Apostles, and we find Jesus.  When we find Jesus, we bring Him our gifts: the gift of our faith, the gift of our heart, the gift of our commitment to Him as Lord and Savior and our willingness to follow Him wherever He may lead.

Be Christ for all.  Bring Christ to all.  See Christ in all.

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