Sermon for the Epiphany of Our Lord
Fr Paul Chandler
God is Faithful
There is one thing that every human heart longs for: someone to love and someone to trust. The tragic thing is that many people look for this in all the wrong places.
We need someone who not only will promise to never let us down and never abandon us, but someone who will keep that promise.
Thankfully, most people find this someone. But you and I know that no person can do this for another perfectly. Yet, there is someone who is utterly, totally, and unhesitatingly faithful.
That someone is God.
The coming of the Wise Men to adore the baby Jesus is one of the most beautiful proofs of God’s faithfulness.
More than 500 years before Christ’s birth, God had promised, through his prophet Isaiah, that he was going to lead “all the nations” to Jerusalem to share in the light of salvation. He even promised that they would bring gold and incense.
In the Book of Psalms he had made the same promise in different words “the kings of Tarshish and the coasts will pay him tribute; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts”.
In spite of 500 years of wars, migrations, and historical turbulence that re-wrote the map of the civilized world three different times, God did what he said he was going to do.
The Wise Men came from the non-Jewish world; they represent the nations. By coming to Christ, they enter into the light of salvation, bringing gifts.
God kept his promise, through the ups and downs of history, which are under His control.
And this is our God, whom we come to worship today. Indeed, knowing that God is faithful is the foundation of our whole spiritual life. (Catechism #222)
The Sacred Heart Keeps His Promises
Most of us have heard of the famous promises that the Sacred Heart of Jesus made to Saint Margaret Mary.
One of these promises was that anyone who faithfully goes to Mass and worthily receives Holy Communion on nine First Fridays of the month in a row is sure to die with the sacraments.
In the summer of 2008 tragedy struck a Catholic high school in Chile. This particular school practices the First Friday devotions every year.
On the fateful day, a busload of 27 girls was travelling on an annual week away.
The bus was driving along a winding country road near the mountains. The inexperienced bus driver took one of the turns too fast, and the bus slammed into the barrier at the side of the road.
The bus tipped over and rolled several times before it crashed to a stop only a short distance away from a ravine 200 metres deep.
Some of the girls were thrown out of the bus; some were pinned underneath it; others were stuck inside of it. All of them were injured, and some lay there dying.
A few hundred metres behind the bus, on the same road, there was a Catholic priest driving back to his parish.
When he turned the corner where the accident occurred, the dust hadn’t even settled yet.
He saw the overturned bus, pulled off the side of the road, and rushed to the scene with his stole and his holy oils.
Nine of the teenage girls in the accident died, but they died with the comfort and grace of the sacraments.
The Sacred Heart had kept his promise, because He is faithful.
The Blessed Sacrament
The enduring faithfulness of God is seen in our churches in the abiding presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The Blessed Sacrament is, if you like, the never-ending epiphany of Christ to the world.
I want you to gaze at the tabernacle now as I continue.
He silently endures the carelessness of those who do not honour him. He waits in patience for those for whom He died to come to visit him.
The Blessed Sacrament is not some symbol of Christ. It is not a holy object, like a statue or icon. There in the tabernacle, in the tabernacles of all Catholic Churches, is a person, the real presence of the Son of God.
How awesome is that!
Remember the Magi, who journeyed long and hard, not sure where they were going but faithfully following the star.
The Magi found the King they were looking for in a stable, not a palace, and then they had to leave him and go home again.
We are much more blessed. The King we have found comes within us at Holy Communion and He will always be present in our churches. Why? Because He is faithful.
Can we be faithful in return? Can we honour the presence of Christ, in the way we genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament; in the reverent way we receive Holy Communion; in the way we behave in the Church, in His presence?
At the Epiphany Christ showed himself to the nations. Because of the Blessed Sacrament present in our church, we are in a continual state of epiphany. God is with us; shown to all the nations.