The Epiphany of the Lord, Year B

Sunday, January 7, 2018
Fr. Jon
Homily transcription: 

     On Christmas day of 2005, Pope Benedict XVI published his encyclical, Deus Cartitas Est, which means God is love.  In it he says, "Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, who gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."  

     That is a good corrective, I think, on a tendency today to reduce our faith to a moral project, to trying to be good.  While I applaud efforts at growing in holiness, sometimes this misses the essential point of the Gospels.  Being Christian is not so much about who we are and what we have done.  Being a Christian is really about who Jesus is and what he does.

     Today we dedicate our new icon-crucifix, and we pray that it will help many to encounter Jesus, especially during our celebration of our Eucharist.  This beautiful art is the result of many years of praying, planning, studying the US Bishops' document on art and environment, and lots and lots of meetings.

     It is made possible because of the generosity of the family of Leo and Suzanne Peters who assisted with the development and installation of it.  It is made possible through the great talent of our iconographer, Kathy Sievers of Oregon.  And it is made possible through a generous gift of Phil Baumel and his family, and is dedicated in memory of his wife, Rita.

     In his excellent book, The Passion and the Cross, Fr Ron Rolheiser says this: "If we understand the cross, all the rest of what Jesus teaches makes sense.  Conversely, if we do not understand the cross, all the rest of what Jesus teaches will not make sense."  Later in the book, he adds: "The cross of Christ is not well understood.  But the divine love it reveals can be deeply felt, in the depth of our hearts."

     It happened that the dedication of our crucifix falls on the feast of the Epiphany, and I thought how on earth am I going to put those two together?  However, we will conclude the homily by singing the together a song that does this amazing well, almost like it was written for this occasion.  (Wood of the Cradle, see here for text and tune:

     But these two do fit together, because they both reveal the astounding love of God, revealed in a powerless child in the manger, and the powerless Christ on the cross.  On Epiphany, we see an amazing truth, that God came to us and shared in our very life. On Good Friday, we see an even more amazing truth, that God came to us and shared in our very death.

     This is the God we gather to worship every Sabbath, Jesus the Christ.  Pope Benedict reminds us that being a Christian is essentially an encounter with a person who gives our lives decisive direction.  

     In the years ahead, many future generations and thousands of people from all over the world will gather here, in our beloved sacred space.  May they encounter the love of God in Jesus in our crucifix, and even if we do not fully understand it, may we deeply feel it.