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Homily Epiphany of the Lord

Your light shines in your faith and joy that comes from that faith.

By Bishop Larry Silva
January 08, 2017

[Holy Trinity Church, Honolulu (Pastor Installation); St. Stephen Catholic Church, Honolulu]

You are a star!  You shine with a radiance that makes people turn their heads and pay attention.  You light up a room with your presence.  You bring light where there is darkness, and make people want to get up and follow.  You are a star!

You might be asking, “Who, me?”  We know what attention a star gets.  Whether it is an entertainer, a famous public figure, or a sports hero or heroine, we know that they have a following that is amazing.  People would go to great lengths just to be in their presence and to say, “I saw that person!”

But when I say that you are a star, I am referring to something much more important than celebrity status.  It was a star that led Gentiles, wise people who did not share the Jewish faith and who did not even know the history of God’s marvelous deeds among his people or the promise God made to them that a Messiah would come.  It was a star that led them to the fulfillment of all human desire.  Of course their first stop was the palace, naturally thinking that this special star guiding them to the newborn King of the Jews would be found in the palace of Herod, who considered himself the king of the Jews.  But the star led them to a much more unlikely place than the palace.  It led them to a little town not far away that was probably populated by more sheep than people, the little town of Bethlehem.  And it led them not to an experience or to a philosophy, but to a person, a little tiny baby who was also God.  On seeing the child to whom the star had led them, they were overjoyed, and they offered him the best gifts they could find in their treasuries:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

But that was then, and this is now.  Christ has already been revealed to us, and we know much more about him than the Magi did, because we know that he taught wonderful things about the Kingdom of God, that he suffered and died, and that he rose from the dead.  Yet how many people still walk in darkness and dwell in a land of gloom?  How many know of Jesus Christ as a figure of history, but have not had the joy of coming to be in his presence?  How many do not yet know that Jesus is still alive and still with us?  They search for something that will bring them light and joy and look for it in sex, wealth, or power.  The world itself often feels drowned in the darkness of terrorism, violence, and apathy.  Some have even become so enamored of what they think is light but is really darkness, that they view the true light as a threat to them, just as Herod did.  Our families are falling apart through lack of commitment, through strange notions of what family love means, and through too many distractions – however good in themselves – that take us away from each other.  Our body politic is no longer focused on the common good, but rather on each individual asking, “What’s in it for me?”  Despite many advances in medicine and technology, we still suffer from diseases and still anguish over our own health or the health of loved ones.

In the midst of all this darkness, how will people see that there is light eternal to bring them everlasting joy and gladness?  How will people know that Jesus, who was born in a town whose name means “House of Bread” is here with us now, offering himself to us as the Bread of Life?  How will people understand that the little babe who was laid in a manger, a feed box for animals, is with us here and is our food as he nourishes us with his Word and with his own Body and Blood?  There are so many people who are distant from him and who do not share in the great story of his love.  Who will guide them to Jesus so that they may be overjoyed, and so that their darkness can be changed to light?

You are a star!  It is the Lord who calls everyone here to be that star for others, a star that guides them to the true light and the Savior of the world, so that he can shine for them in all his radiant splendor.  Your light shines in your faith and in the joy that comes from that faith, so that it can become contagious enough that others want to catch it.  Your light shines when you bring light to the darkness of poverty by reaching out to those in need; when you shine for those who are grieving or confused by lending a listening ear and an open heart to them; when you refuse to allow those who think they are bringing light by leading people to greater self-indulgence to turn back to the true Light.  There are many of our brothers and sisters who are Gentiles in their lack of understanding of the faith, and yet who, like the Magi, search in the darkness for something that will light up their lives.  We come here to celebrate and to offer our gifts because we have been blessed and privileged to find on our journeys the One who is the Light to the nations.  But we are never to keep that joy to ourselves.  It is our mission to share with others this wonderful encounter with Jesus, risen from the darkness of the tomb into the light of eternal love.  Without you, how will the Epiphany of the Lord continue; how will his love be manifested to a dark and hungry world?

You may not be a celebrity, but always remember:  You are a star!