Monsignor Yennock on Epiphany

Jan 4, 2016

EPIPHANY JANUARY 3, 2015

A STAR RISING IN THE EAST CAUGHT THE ATTENTION OF THE WISE MEN AND THEY FOLLOWED IT TO THE PLACE WHERE JESUS WAS. WHEN THEY FOUND HIM THEY WORSHIPPED HIM.

ON THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY WE ARE REMINDED THAT GOD REAVEALED TO THE MAGI THE DIVINITY OF JESUS.

THE WISE MEN, IF FAMILIAR WITH THE PROPHECIES, MUST HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THE MESSIAH FOR A LONG TIME AND SUDDENLY THEY CONNECT THE STAR WITH THE ARRIVAL OF THE LONG AWAITED MESSIAH.

THIS REVELATION OF GOD TO THE WISE MEN IS CALLED AN EPIPHANY. THIS WORD EPIPHANY MEANS A SUDDEN MANIFESTATION OF GOD. THE WISE MEN EXPERIENCED A SUPERNATURAL EPIPHANY.

 

THERE ARE NATURAL EPIPHANIES IN EVERYONE’S LIFE. WHEN YOU SUDDENLY REALIZE SOMETHING OR SUDDENLY COMPREHEND SOMETHING IN A DIFFERENT WAY, THAT’S AN EPIPHANY.

SOMETIMES WE REFER TO EPIPHANY AS AN “AHA MOMENT” BECAUSE WHEN YOU MAKE A CLEAR CONNECTION WITH SOME TRUTH THAT YOU’VE KNOWN IN A CONFUSED  WAY YOU OFTEN EXCLAIM “OH, AH HA! NOW I GET IT.”

AN EPIPHANY CAN BE A SUDDEN SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM THAT YOU HAVE BEEN GRAPPLING WITH FOR A LONG TIME. YOU MIGHT EVEN FIND THAT SOLUTION BY STEPPING INTO A BATHTUB. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GREEK SCIENTIST ARCHIMEDES WHO LIVED IN THE SECOND CENTURY BEFORE CHRIST.

ARCHIMEDES HAD BEEN STRUGGLING WITH A PROBLEM IN MATHEMATICS AND PHYSICS. SUDDENLY WHEN HE STEPPED INTO THE BATHTUB HE NOTICED HOW THE WATER WAS DISPLACED BY THE VOLUME OF HIS BODY.

HE WAS SO OVERCOME BY THIS DISCOVERY THAT HE SCREAMED EUREKA, EUREKA WHICH MEANS I HAVE FOUND IT.

ARCHIMEDES HAD DISCOVERED A NEW PRINCIPLE OF PHYSICS. SOMETHING VERY COMMON SUDDENLY TOOK ON PROFOUND MEANING AND HIS PROBLEM WAS SOLVED. FOR ARCHIMEDES THIS WAS AN EPIPHANY THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF HIS LIFE WORK.

WE ALL EXPERIENCE AN EPIPHANY IN OUR LIVES. IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT IT. YOU ALSO HAVE HAD AN EPIPHANY OF ONE SORT OR ANOTHER IN YOUR LIFE.

THERE IS NOTHING MORE THRILLING THAN WHEN YOU SUDDENLY REALIZE THE REAL MEANING OF SOMETHING AND YOU SAY: “YES, YES, OF COURSE. WHY DIDN’T I SEE THAT BEFORE?

THE PHRASE "RELIGIOUS EPIPHANY" IS USED WHEN A PERSON REALIZES HIS FAITH, OR WHEN HE IS CONVINCED THAT AN EVENT OR HAPPENING WAS REALLY CAUSED BY SOME SUPERNATURAL GRACE.

WHEN I WAS STILL IN GRAMMER SCHOOL A SISTER IN RELIGION CLASS QUOTED JESUS WHEN HE SAID: “WHAT DOES IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSE HIS SOUL IN THE PROCESS” I HAD HEARD THOSE WORDS BEFORE BUT SUDDENLY IN THAT MOMENT OF GRACE I WAS STRUCK BY THE LIFE-CHANGING TRUTH IN THOSE WORDS.

LIFE UNFOLDS ONLY IN MOMENTS. SOMETIMES THERE IS A MOMENT WHEN, FOR A SPLIT SECOND IN TIME, GOD’S PRESENCE IS FELT IN OUR LIVES IN AN UNMISTAKABLE WAY. FOR ME THAT WAS A LIFE-CHANGING MOMENT. IT WAS MY EPIPHANY.

MUCH LATER IN MY LIFE I WAS IN A DISCUSSION GROUP WITH SEVERAL MARRIED COUPLES. ONE OF THE HUSBANDS SAID: “I HAVE FOUND THAT IF I PUT GOD FIRST IN MY LIFE EVERYTHING ELSE SEEMS TO FALL INTO PLACE.”

NOW I HAD PREACHED THAT CONCEPT MANY TIMES BEFORE WHEN SPEAKING ABOUT JESUS WORDS: “SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU BESIDES.”

SUDDENLY IN THAT GROUP WHEN I HEARD THOSE WORDS EXPRESSED IN A DIFFERENT WAY, BY A MAN OF FAITH, THEY HAD A GREATER IMPACT ON ME. THIS WAS ANOTHER EPIPHANY, A MOMENT OF GRACE.

WHEN JOHN THE BAPTIST BAPTIZED JESUS IN THE JORDAN RIVER HE REALIZED THAT BEFORE HIM STOOD THE SON OF GOD. HE TESTIFIED THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT DESCENDED UPON JESUS LIKE A DOVE, AND HE HEARD A VOICE FROM HEAVEN SAY: "THIS IS MY SON, WHOM I LOVE; WITH HIM I AM WELL PLEASED." THAT MOMENT WAS JOHN’S EPIPHANY.

 

PETER, JAMES AND JOHN EXPERIENCED A MOMENT OF GRACE ON THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION. FOR A SPLIT SECOND IN TIME THEY GOT A GLIMPSE OF ETERNITY.THEIR EPIPHANY CHANGED THEIR LIVES FOREVER.

WHEN WE HAVE AN EPIPHANY IT IS A MOMENT WHEN THE BORDER BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH SEEMS TO FADE FOR A BRIEF PERIOD AND THE GLORY OF GOD SHINES INTO OUR LIFE.

YOU WILL REMEMBER THE NAME OF BILL WILSON. HE IS THE FOUNDER OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. FOR YOU WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH IT, AA IS A TWELVE STEP PROGRAM THAT HAS SAVED THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS OF MEN AND WOMEN ADDICTED TO ALCOHOL.

BILL WILSON’S EPIPHANY, OR MOMENT OF GRACE CAME TO HIM IN A HOSPITAL ROOM. THIS IS HOW ONE OF HIS BIOGRAPHERS DESCRIBES THE SCENE:

“THE CANCER OF ALCOHOL HAD ALREADY KILLED HIS MIND, HIS WILL, HIS SPIRIT, AND IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEORE IT WOULD KILL HIS BODY. YET AT THIS MOMENT, WITH THE LAST VESTIGE OF PRIDE, THE LAST TRACEOF OBSTINACY CRUSHED OUT OF HIM, STILL HE KNEW HE WANTED TO LIVE.

“HE WOULD DO ANYTHING, ANYTHING, TO BE ALLOWED TO GO ON LIVING. “O GOD”, HE CRIED, AND IT WAS THE SOUND, NOT OF A MAN, BUT OF A TRAPPED AND CRIPPLED ANIMAL. ‘IF THERE IS A GOD, SHOW ME. SHOW ME. GIVE ME SOME SIGN.’

“IN THAT VERY INSTANT HE WAS AWARE FIRST OF A LIGHT, A GREAT WHITE LIGHT THAT FILLED THE ROOM. THEN HE SUDDENLY SEEMED CAUGHT UP IN A KIND OF JOY, AN ECSTASY SUCH AS HE WOULD NEVER FIND WORDS TO DESCRIBE. IT WAS AS THOUGH HE WERE STANDING HIGH ON A MOUNTAINTOP AND A STRONG CLEAR WIND BLEW AGAINST HIM, AROUND HIM, THROUGH HIM—BUT IT SEEMED A WIND NOT OF AIR, BUT OF SPIRIT—AND AS THIS HAPPENED HE HAD THE FEELING THAT HE WAS STEPPING INTO ANOTHER WORLD, A NEW WORLD OF CONSCIOUSNESS. AND EVERYWHERE NOW THERE WAS A WONDROUS FEELING OF A PRESENCE, WHICH ALL HIS LIFE HE HAD BEEN SEEKING. NOWHERE HAD HE EVER FELT SO COMPLETE, SO SATISFIED, SO EMBRACED.

“NOW IN PLACE OF THE LIGHT, HE WAS FILLED WITH A PEACE SUCH AS HE HAD NEVER KNOWN. HE HAD HEARD OF MEN WHO HAD TRIED TO OPEN THE UNIVERSE TO THEMSELVES. HE HAD OPENED HIMSELF TO THE UNIVERSE.

“HE HAD HEARD MEN SAY THERE WAS A BIT OF GOD IN EVERYONE, BUT THIS FEELING THAT HE WAS A PART OF GOD HIMSELF-- A LIVING PART OF THE HIGHER POWER, WAS A NEW AND REVOLUTIONARY FEELING.”

FROM THAT TIME ON BILL WILSON NEVER TOOK ANOTHER DRINK.

BILL WILSON EXPERIENCED A GENUINE CONVERSION. IT WAS HIS MOMENT OF GRACE.

NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW THE NUMBER OF RECOVERING ALCOHOLICS WHO OWE THEIR NEW LIFE TO BILL WILSON’S EPIPHANY.

 

 

 

WHAT A VEIL OF TEARS THIS LIFE CAN BE FOR US—THE WORRIES OF RAISING A FAMILY-- THE STRUGGLE OF FINDING AND KEEPING A JOB-- THE ANXIETY OVER EACH SEMESTER OF SCHOOL-- THE LONELINESS OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS-- THE HURT OF REJECTION--THE EMBARASSMENT OF SIN AND SCANDAL-- THE TRIAL OF TEMPTATION--THE GRIEF OF SICKNESS AND DEATH.

THE MERCIFUL LORD PROVIDES MOMENTS OF GRACE THAT CAN HELP US SEE THINGS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT. SOME OF THESE MOMENTS CAN BE LIFE CHANGING.

GOD INVITES US TO SET ASIDE TIME EACH DAY FOR PRAYER IN WHICH WE OPEN OUR HEARTS TO HIM WAITING FOR OUR EPIPHANY.

TAKE SOME TIME THIS WEEK TO REMEMBER THE EPIPHANIES IN YOUR OWN LIFE AND HOW THEY CHANGED YOUR LIFE.

JOHN NEWTON, WHO HAD HIS OWN EPIPHANY ENCOURAGES US WITH HIS WORDS FROM AMAZING GRACE:

THROUGH MANY DANGERS, TOILS AND SNARES, I HAVE ALREADY COME, TIS GRACE HAS BROUGHT ME SAFE THUS FAR AND GRACE WILL LEAD ME HOME.