Following the celebration of Ordination with Cardinal Collins, Fr. James Tilley (left) and I (Fr. John Hodgins) have been authorized to preach in the Catholic Church in the Toronto region. Our ministry is first and foremost in and for the unity of Christ's Holy Catholic Church.
Pope Francis has asked all of us to pray his EVANGELIZATION INTENTION for January: For Christian unity. We pray and work with our Lord: "that they all may be one."
Following are some homiletic thoughts on THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD: THE GLORY AND MERCY OF GOD for the unity of the Church and of humanity.
EPIPHANY 2014 Jan. 5 – St. Thomas More, Toronto
“Arise, shine for thy Light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.” (Isaiah 60)
“O God who on this day revealed thy Only Begotten Son to the nations . . . grant in thy mercy that we, who know Thee already by faith, may be brought to behold the beauty of Thy sublime glory.” From A Collect for Epiphany.
Glory and mercy – these themes emerge from the readings and prayers today on this celebration of the Epiphany of Our Lord as we contemplate how God communicates with us his beloved creatures; communicates in signs and wonders and through our faith.
This is the language of God who does not force our belief nor our compliance with his will but rather reveals Himself in order that we may freely respond in love to God’s own love.
In the life of faith it is important first to recognize who we are before God. The manifestation of God’s glory reveals to us the majesty of the unfathomable divine life of God the Holy Trinity, one God uncreated and eternal, not “a being” even the greatest being but rather the uncreated source and the creator of all beings.
The reality of God who is, once again, not simply a greater or more powerful being not one different in degree but different in substance from us. The essence of God is, in brief, so different from our own reality that we can only begin to understand God by analogy and by God’s revelation to us – a revelation which communicates what is beyond the wit of man.
We are created ex nihilo, from nothing, and our lives are circumscribed and of limited length. As creatures, then, we can only enter humbly into the relationship of mercy which God provides.
Our submission to the glory of God, the uncreated and eternal, does not, however, demean our humanity but rather illuminates us in the light of the glory of our Creator and Redeemer. This is because we become who we were meant to be in and through the mercy of God.
Under the mercy of God who has been revealed in the flesh of Jesus Christ we may grow and be fulfilled as creatures of the infinite and in union with the infinite love which has shaped the universe and yet has condescended to live amongst us.
The Epiphany of Christ as God Incarnate for the nations is, then, the celebration of the illumination of the purposes of God, the revealing of the meaning behind creation, the offering of an eternal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the God-Man, who by entering into our lives has made it possible for us to enter into the eternal life of God.
In the Eastern Churches it is the Baptism of our Lord that is a principle focus at the Epiphany of our Lord, not so much the visit of the Magi as is the focus in the Western Church, though both events are part of the same illumination of God’s purpose.
The Baptism of Jesus focuses on the manifestation of who the Saviour of the World truly is. The descent of the dove upon Jesus in the waters of baptism is a sign of his glory as the only begotten of the Father and of Jesus’ role as the anointed one, the Christ who is to share his glory by means of his life, death and resurrection for all nations and peoples.
This divine mercy, the condescension of God to become incarnate for us and to suffer death for our redemption is the most profound manifestation of his glory, the glory of the merciful Son of God emptying himself, pouring out his life for us. This life is available to us daily in the Eucharist, the outpouring of God’s incarnate mercy.
Through his example and in the Mass, Jesus illustrates, models and communicates how we are called to pour out our lives for the healing and unity of all. In this process the Holy Spirit brings us into the glory and dignity of the sons and daughters of God, the light and glory of our humanity.
Pope Francis' UNIVERSAL INTENTION for January 2014 reflects these themes of glory and mercy. The Holy Father asks us to pray this month for: Economic Development: That all may promote authentic economic development that respects the dignity of all peoples in which we see the mercy of God at work in humanity showing the glory of God.
In Pope Francis’ EVANGELIZATION INTENTION for January 2014, we see that Christian Unity is the focus for our prayers: That Christians of diverse denominations may walk toward the unity desired by Christ – this is the very mission of the Ordinariates around the world.
In thanksgiving for the glory and mercy of God we offer this Mass and our prayers.