Epiphany

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that  when King Herod heard the Wise Men asking for the child born the king of the Jews “he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born." Fear and the unhappiness born of fear are the inevitable, certain effects of putting one's trust in any sufficiency that does not spring from Jesus. In the end no principalities, no powers, no created thing however exalted can bear the weight of what humanity is meant to become through Christ.

As local exponents of this new humanity, we as monastics cannot find our sufficiency in our own contemplative hiddenness, in our knowledge, in our adherence to venerable catholic tradition, in our various abilities, or in our monastic structure—sufficiency is not to be found in any of these. But in giving Jesus the gift of our entire selves and our tradition, body, mind and soul, he gives us back the use of these varied things which will glorify the Father through him. By the continual return of these riches to Christ—our own versions of frankincense, gold and myrrh—they are rooted and grounded and made life-giving through him. Our lives and our works will subsist in the power of God and in nothing less.

Borrowing a phrase from the side of the recycling bin, it might be said of God that in the Epiphany God was "Thinking globally, acting locally." We follow this self-abandoned God in a particular way as contemplatives, and in a more particular way as Julians, in smallness, hiddenness and contemplative perseverance. For us, "acting locally" requires that the work of the kingdom must begin at the level of our own hearts, within the space bounded by our own bodies. Extending our local work further out, even to each other, is a job that only the Holy Spirit can do.

The event of the Epiphany is the beginning of the manifestation of the power of God redeeming humanity from within, through the agency of this one human, Jesus. We celebrate these feasts partly in order to remind ourselves of our real business in the world; following Jesus, we are meant to be gateways to the holy, lights to the world, the universal manifest in the particular.

 

 

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