Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord: God manifested himself, in the person of Jesus, as the Savior, not only to the chosen people of Israel, but also to the whole world. The Magi coming from far away places to recognize Jesus as king, God, and man by offering gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus came to save all of us: the ones who recognize him as Lord and Savior.
Thinking about this celebration and how these wise men, magi, or three kings went to pay homage to Jesus in Bethlehem, I remember when I had the opportunity to be there, in Bethlehem. It was a very powerful experience visiting this Holy Land in February 2012. I really enjoyed being in Bethlehem, even though now it is a different place from when Jesus was born 2018 years ago.
There is a small doorway (Door of Humility) to get into the Church of the Nativity. Inside is the Grotto of the Nativity, underneath which is the star marking the spot where tradition says the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. When I was there, I was thinking about how many people have been there, in a similar way as the Magi were thousands of years before, to recognize the newborn king. Probably thousands and thousand of people are there every year, but how many of them really recognize with their lives that Jesus is the Savior.
We do not need to be at the site of the Nativity of the Lord to accept Jesus as our Savior. We can do it right here, where we live. We give Him gold when we help those who are most in need, sharing our money, our food, our clothes; we give Him frankincense when we celebrate our faith with the sacraments, especially participating devoutly in Sunday Mass and confession, recognizing His power to forgive all sins; we give him myrrh when we recognize our human frailty and ask for His grace to face all our challenges and problems.
So, if we have to opportunity to visit Israel, it would be an amazing experience, but if we are not able, we can pay homage to our Lord in our Churches, in our homes, in our work places, and in our neighborhood, just by living the gospel as true disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
You have seen the beautiful outdoor nativities we have in front or next to our churches. I want to thank Jim Krok and Terry Radejewski for making those beautiful stables, the Hispanic Committee for buying the statues of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and the Church Hall Committee for paying for some of the installation cost. Thanks to their generous help, we were able to celebrate more properly the Mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord.
Your brother in Christ,