The Epiphany of Our Lord by Fr. Joel
Epiphany means the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Mathew 2:1-12). The Gentiles includes all non-Jewish people. Jesus was born among the Jewish people and his birth was revealed to other nations through the Magi. The Magi are three kings that represented the different parts of the world, who came to visit the new born king, Jesus. The Lord revealed to the Magi through a star that led them to the Baby Jesus. This means God revealed himself to the whole world, even though Jesus was born in Israel. Jesus is a universal king of the world. He is king of every race and nation. Therefore, no particular people can claim monopoly of him. He is for everybody in every nation.
The three kings came with gifts to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and to worship him. On the other hand Herod was angry at the birth of Jesus and wanted to kill him. Up to this day there are many who still hate Jesus and his church. That is being demonstrated in the persecution of Christians all over the world. Furthermore, the chief priests and leaders of the Jews were indifferent to the birth of Jesus Christ. This is still happening in our time. Many people are indifferent to Jesus Christ and are concern more about worldly things. Many of us are guilty of this because we place certain things in our lives above Jesus. This feast is a call to every one of us to celebrate the birth of Jesus as the universal king of all nations.
God created us differently and gave us different talents for a reason. Everything he created is good and beautiful. That is God’s creativity and it is wonderful. This is a fact that cannot be denied by anyone. Even identical twins have some differences in them. Our differences are not to be seen as sources of division and hatred for one another, but as sources of strength and beauty that come from God. These differences and talents should be used to build one strong family of God. Therefore, anyone who hates or dislikes others because they are different is just wasting God’s time and resources because no amount of effort or hatred would change our differences and make us to look the same. Our differences are God’s design and plan for the world. Therefore, let us accept it, appreciate it, and cherish our differences and love one another as children of God.
God created us differently for a purpose. He did not make any mistakes. The story of creation tells us that everything he created was good. And in creating us he did not give anyone everything that they need in this life, instead, he gave each one of us some things and denied us some other things. That is why, in order for us to be completely happy in this life, we have to depend on each other to get those things that we do not have. Therefore, we were created to complement each other before we can succeed and survive in this world.
Lack of appreciation for our differences breeds hatred, discrimination, racism, and war in our world. It is only when we begin to appreciate our differences that we will overcome our selfishness and begin to live in peace with one another. Everyone of is special and has somethings to contribute for the building of God’s kingdom. Let us tolerate and love one another and live as members of one big family of God
There are different ways of discriminating against people of different races. Some people think is only the majority or rich or powerful people who can discriminate against other people. No, even the minorities and less privilege people can discriminate against other people as well. Any form of segregation and showing of differences is racism. For instance, if you suppress and discriminate against other people because they are different from you, is discrimination. When you deny people their rights and privileges because they are different from you, is racism. When you see others as less or second class citizens because they are different from you, is racism. If you avoid people and bear grudges against them because they are different from you, is racism. If you decide to form groups of you own type of people only and refuse to mingle with others, is discrimination. When you speak in a language that is not known to everyone in a group, is discrimination.
Today as we celebrate the manifestation of the Lord to different people at different times, which means God’s love for all peoples and nations, we should learn to appreciate our diversity and love one another. Let us appreciate our different talents and use them to enrich our community and society. Let everyone bring what they have and share with others and our community will become a wonderful place for everyone. For instance, we have different priests and deacons with different talents, that is a blessing to our community; we have different choirs that sing at different masses and ceremonies, that is a blessing to our parish; we have different international communities here with different cultures and ways of doing things, that is also a blessing; we have different ministries for different services, that is another blessing in this parish; we have different people volunteering to offer different services, that is also a great blessing for our parish community. All of these contribute in very wonderful ways toward enriching and making our parish community great.
Unfortunately, some other people get upset when things are done differently or not their own ways. It is fruitless, however, to think that things would always be done the same way or your own way, because it is not possible. Our world is full of diversity, the earlier we recognize and appreciate that and use it for good the better for us. Here in this parish, in attempt to recognize and appreciate our diversity, we celebrate the feast of epiphany as our multicultural day. It is an effort to show appreciation for our diversity and to use it as source of strength and means of evangelization in our community and to the larger society. The rainbow, God designed it with different colors which suggest diversity in the world. Therefore, we are like the rainbow with different colors and diversity, what a beauty of God’s creation we are?
As a person, I like our diversity because I do not see our differences as distinctions or segregations but as different parts that are meant to complement each other to accomplish a great mission of God here on earth. For instance, I was not conscious of the fact that I was the only black person in the parish office, not until someone commented on face book at our staff picture from my country Nigeria saying, ‘’father you are the only black person among white people.’’ I see that as a compliment. And I have never felt that I am different from others in the office or parish. Another thing I really appreciated was when one the students in our school said to her classmate, look father has the same hair like you. For me that was identifying, complimenting and appreciating how God created others differently. This is how we should comment and appreciate our diversity and use it for the common good of our community and society. Another day, I was wearing my traditional clothe and a woman walked up to me and said she liked the dress because it was beautiful.
Every person, in spite of our differences, is very special and important in our parish community and society. Therefore, let us appreciate one another and work together to accomplish God’s mission in our lives. The mission of God is to love everyone without discrimination. Let us glorify the Lord with our colors and diversity because we are created in his image and likeness.
Just as the star guided the three wise men to where the baby Jesus was, that is how he has guided and brought us together in spite of our diversity to meet Jesus in this parish community. We are call upon to help guide others through our words and deeds to come meet Jesus. Let us use our diversity to reveal Jesus to others by the way we love and serve each other as children of God. The three wise men represented the then known world: Asia, Africa, and Europe, in the same way, our parish community which is made up of different international communities, represents the different cultures of the world today. The word catholic means universal; therefore, our parish is a universal parish because we have different cultures and nationalities that represent all the different parts of the world here. Our parish is truly the image of the Catholic Church. In this parish everyone is welcomed and accepted as a
member of one big family of God. Please feel free and be at home. Let us celebrate our diversity and use it to glorify God. Let us share our cultures, colors, food, and gifts with one another to demonstrate our love for each other and to reveal the baby Jesus to everyone.
Homily given by Fr. Joel Bako (pictured to the right) on Epiphany, January 8, 2017 at Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church in Irving, TX.