Thinking Outside the Box

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

We all have our way of doing things and looking at situations. Usually, we believe ours is the best way. Honest conversation between friends can often include sharing our points of view and, perhaps, trying to change the other’s perspective. Today’s feast, The Epiphany, is one of those remarkable moments in our history when we are all called to think differently. The deepest meaning of this celebration pushes everyone out of his/her comfort zone and changes our image of God.

Consider the situation. Three very important strangers who differ in language, color, dress, customs, and food than those who dwell in the city of Jerusalem, arrive and begin to ask questions about a local reality (a newborn king of the Jewish people). Their presence evokes the attention of the local king who, feeling threatened by the birth of another king, asks, “Who are these people and why on earth would they have traveled so far to this place? And what is this about a king?”

As we continue to read the Gospel story, we discover that the strangers had followed the star from Jerusalem and found their way to the stable in Bethlehem. Despite the humble circumstances of the birth place of the King, they were able to recognize that the baby was truly the King foretold of in the prophecy and offered Him their gifts.

An epiphany is understood as a moment of a new awareness or insight that opens up a new way of looking at something. The three strangers, also known as the Three Kings from the East or the Three Wise Men, certainly underwent a true epiphany, and it is imperative for us to do so too.

The Epiphany insists that you and I think of God as bigger than we usually do, for God’s Son was born into our world and His purpose and interests are not limited by race, color, ethnic background, social class, gender, political position or any other common distinction that differentiates us one from another. The implications of this thought are significant. It may mean that not all those whom we consider our enemies are God’s enemies. The whole philosophy of war and capital punishment, immigration and refugees, gays and straights, rich and poor and on and on takes on a new perspective in light of the Epiphany. The insistence of Jesus in Mt. 25, “Whatever you do to the least… you do to Me” flows from our understanding of the Epiphany.

No wonder this beautiful word has been incorporated into our vocabulary. What a great way to start the New Year – having such an epiphany on the Feast of the Epiphany!

Fr. Ronan