January 2, 2022: Homily- Epiphany of the Lord

As you know, one of the most popular things these days is online dating.  Millions of people in this country sign up for one or more of these dating services, in the hopes of finding that special someone, the Mr/Mrs. Right.  The term my Ghanaian people use to describe their dream partner. This way of pursuing relationships is quite new, and was not the case just a decade a two ago.  In the very olden days (way, way back), parents often found matches for their sons and daughters, either by firm persuasion or in some cases by arrangement.

The western culture today has mostly moved away from that, but this “process” does still exist in some places like my homeland Ghana. In the glory days of newspapers, personal ads became quite popular, although many people shunned them, feeling that it seemed a little too desperate to find a spouse in this way.  Eventually video dating became a thing, but it was expensive, and therefore was never really adopted as a common way of finding a mate.

Yet, until very recently, despite all these options, people primarily “found” men or women to date by “accident”.   Sometimes it came about because someone happened to sit next to them in one of their classes or lived in the same dorm.  Sometimes it came about because a new family had moved next door.  Sometimes it came about because they worked for the same company or in the same building.  Sometimes it was the result of meeting a friend of a friend of a friend.  And sometimes it came about in the most clichéd way of all – two people striking up a conversation in a bar or at a party.  Yes, until recently, people met other people in all sorts of ways, usually “just because” – not because of something the person or persons were actually doing to bring it about.

But online dating is different, and seemingly remarkably effective.  These days, whenever you ask couples how they met, the majority of them say “online”.  And the reason I used the word “different” to describe online dating is because it seems to be the method with the most intentionality – the method in which people take the most active role in the search, the method in which people don’t wait for something “accidental” to happen, but rather set out on a mission to find what they are looking for.  And it works.

That’s what ultimately came to mind as I was preparing this homily for the this holy day –  Epiphany – the day on which we recall the incredible story of the Magi embarking on an adventure, a search to find the newborn king of the Jews.  And in this story, light plays a dominant role.  These men were looking for a light, for a sign in the sky that would signal something special, something out of the ordinary.  And they followed that light wherever it led them.  We can presume that this was not an easy quest.  Traveling in ancient times was never easy or safe.  And of course, ultimately they get to gaze on and do homage to the Light of the World.

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come,

the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”

 So says the prophet Isaiah in today’s First Reading.  It’s easy to see a sort of foreshadowing in his words, a kind of prophecy that would be realized centuries later.  Isaiah seemed to understand that a kind of darkness had crept into the world, into their hearts and into them as a people.  And what would make things right, what would make things better, what would heal what needed to be healed, was not a conqueror, but rather a light – a light that would dispel the darkness, a light which was God himself shining down upon them and with them and through them.

Light, light, light.

My humble question is, “Do we wish for the same?”

I know we SAY we do, but that’s not what I’m asking.  Are we sincerely looking for the Light?  Would we even recognize the Light if we saw it (or rather, saw him)?  Do we really want to follow the path illuminated by the Light or do we like forging our own path?  Do we truly want the Light to shine on our faults and failings and shortcomings and sin?  Do we want the Light to dispel the darkness of our egos and selfishness and greed and self-righteousness or do we secretly want to keep all of those things just as they are?

You see, the spiritual life requires the same kind of intentionality as I mentioned regarding the dating scene.  It requires a certain kind of focus and persistence and humility. It requires an openness to grace and a willingness to be led.  We have to have some sort of idea who we are looking for, some sort of conviction that God’s way is always the best way, some sort of acceptance and acknowledgment that we need to change, need to be more and forgive more and love more.

Without those things, we will likely remain in a kind of darkness, remain in a kind of spiritual loneliness in which we ultimately spend our lives waiting for God to come to us, while God is inviting us to come to him.

In other words, it’s sort of as if we are continually sitting at home on the couch each and every night, wondering why we can’t ever meet someone, while failing to take even one step to help bring it about.

May we look to the Magi for the wisdom, courage, and trust to seek God in all things, believing that it is in the search that we discover . . .  the God who has been with us all along.

Father Boat

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