Homily for January 3

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Homily for Epiphany 2016
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

They followed a star.
The magi followed a star, looking for a newborn King.
We’d be more likely today to consult a GPS device
than to look to the heavens and follow a star.
Not even folks who read their astrological horoscope every day
look up to the sky to see where they might make their next move.

Just about the only stars people follow today are celebrities:
stars of stage and screen, stars in the worlds of music and sports.
But more often than not, their light doesn’t last long enough
to guide us much farther than the newest fad, fashion or foolishness.
And even the stars in the heavens above eventually burn out and die.

Of course, the light of the star in the gospel story had its own mission:
to lead the magi to another light,
a light no darkness has ever been able to extinguish.

The star the magi followed had a mission
and so this Epiphany I’m wondering…
“Am I called not only follow the star’s light  - to the light of Christ
but am I also called, in some way, to be the star in the gospel story
leading others to that light no darkness has put out?”

Or another way to put the question:
is there a light in my life, in my heart,
a brightness in my words and deeds,  a warmth in my faith
leading others to the light of Christ,
the light that guides my own life?

I’ll tell you who’s a giant Epiphany star
shining on the world around him:
Pope Francis!
Talk about someone with a light in his life and in his heart,
a brightness in his words and deeds
and a warmth in his faith –
all leading others to the light that guides his own life,
the Light of Christ.

Granted, he has a few things going for him.
First off:  he’s the pope!
And he has an international forum in which to speak and act!
And people expect him to share his faith with others.
Some of those things set him apart from us and our lives
but take note of this:
what Francis does is use his own daily circumstances
as a venue for being a bright star
leading others to Christ, the Light of the world.

That’s all any one of is called to do.
To use our own daily circumstances in our homes, in our families,
in our neighborhoods, at work, at school – wherever! –
as a venue to be a star leading others to Christ.

It’s simply not enough for us Catholic folks
to feel good about Pope Francis and say nice things about him.

We need, all of us need, 
each of us needs to find ways in our daily lives
to let others see the light in our hearts,
a brightness in our words and deeds
and a warmth in our faith
that might draw those around us to the light of Christ,
the light that guides our lives.

But a word of caution: shining a flood light
of faith and joy and brightness in another's face
may more quickly blind them
than draw them to Jesus!

The star the magi followed was one among millions.
It was not the sun or the moon – it was a star.
It was there for the magi to follow
and, by the grace of God, they did.

Not even the pope is called to be the sun or the moon –
he’s called to be a star, a guiding star.
That’s all any of us can be:  no more than that 
– but also, nothing less.

If we fail to let our light shine for others,
we fade into and become part of the darkness...

Others around us should be able to find in your life and mine:
a light, a brightness, a warmth that points beyond ourselves
to the Light of the world who guides our lives.

Pray with me on this Epiphany, at the beginning of a new year,
for the grace to be a star, shining just brightly enough
to catch our neighbor’s attention and lead them to that Light
no darkness has ever extinguished.

The Eucharist we receive at this table is food for the journey we’re on,
nourishment to make us strong enough in our faith
that others might see Christ’s light in our lives.

May Christ, the Light of the world, shine in our hearts,
in our words and deeds and in our faith
and through us draw others into the brilliance of his Light.


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