Arrival of Strangers

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone pretty much looked the same, went to the same schools, church, markets, bakeries, bank, park, and so
forth. It was a kind of Irish enclave. We followed with passion the Boston sports teams. Most had brothers and sisters and everyone knew everyone
else’s family members and their story. Anybody’s mother could correct any child and hopefully would not carry out the threat to tell “your mother”. We never knew it was different anywhere else, and it was a good way to grow up with lots of folks a part of your life – a real sense of community.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a small Jewish village in Galilee. I imagine it was
a closely knit community as well. In fact at that time in history, almost all folks lived this way, each one mutually helping and supporting one another through hard times and staying safe against external forces.

The arrival in Jerusalem of three notable strangers, along with others in their team, would have been noticed immediately. And when the three distinguished foreigners started to ask questions about the whereabouts of the birth of a new Jewish king, everyone including King Herod, listened attentively. This was a moment that would go down in history. The birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had become known outside their local quarter and beyond.

The Feast of the Epiphany pulls us into the realization that our God sent His
Son to be born among us. He came, in fact, as a member of a small minority
people – for them and in fulfillment of promises made to them through the ages. Furthermore, this Feast makes clear that God’s saving action is for all the people: in the East and the West, in the South and the North – and this realization is the true gift of the Three Wise Men.

Growing up in small, homogenous areas as many of us have in one way or
another is such a good thing in so many ways. It can also be an easy way to exclude from one’s world others who are different. At its worst, it can re-enforce prejudices and bigotry fueled by ignorance and small-mindedness.

Every people of every nation know something of the struggles of prejudice.
Even today, the tribalism of some people leads to the slaughter of others and the divisions of peoples along lines of race, color, ethnicity, and religion. This is nothing new – rather it is sadly old.

At the birth of the Child Jesus in Bethlehem, the three Wise Men from the East announced the dawn of a new and universal act of God – to be among us as the sign of Hope and salvation for all humankind. Jesus Christ came to set us free for all of this and more! This freedom at its core is based in the God given dignity of every human person, without distinction. As followers of Jesus, it is up to each of us to live out this, God’s vision, in our lives and in our world.

Fr. Ronan

Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord
January 2/3, 2021

Today’s Gospel reading reveals the story of the magi who come from the east to pay homage to Jesus, the newborn king.
The story of the magi teaches Christian stewards three Christmas truths: God, in the person of Jesus Christ, is present and active in the world, and good stewards strive daily to follow his star.
Second, each of us, no matter our circumstances or station in life, has a gift to bring to the Lord.
And finally, our life’s journey always leads to Christ, even when at times we do not know where the road is taking us.