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Epiphany – A Light that Shines in the Darkness

Epiphany – A Light that Shines in the Darkness

January 6, 2020


Chapter Talk – January 5, 2020 – Epiphany

‘To walk as Jesus walked’ (1Jn 2:6) is to live the incarnate reality.  These holy days of Christmas and now Epiphany all emphasize God’s incarnate gift in Christ to and for us, and for our world.  The importance of these days is to imprint upon our memories (so that we will not forget) that God is always coming, always bidding to become a part of our lives, of our hearts, of our choices, of how we love.

To repeat from my Christmas eve chapter talk these words of Jean Danielou: “He is always the one who is to come….Christ is the Head, but his Body is still being formed.  And the time of the Church is the time of the unfolding of Christ.  What was accomplished in him unfolds itself in two ways: in each of us, on one hand; and in the whole of humankind on the other” (Prayer, p.72-73).  Once the Christmas season ends, we are not to leave behind the mystery of the incarnation.  It is clear that we need God, but God also needs us in the sense that we are to offer our lives as receptive vessels for God’s incarnate life.  As Danielou reminds us, Christ is always coming. However, how or in what way is Christ’s Body still being formed? 

As I was praying and reflecting on this, I thought of John Cassian’s image of the spiritual journey: the ‘immediate goal’, scopos, and the end goal, telos.  In Cassian’s schema the immediate goal of our journey is ‘purity of heart’ and the end goal is the ‘kingdom of God’.  Along with ‘purity of heart’ being the immediate goal, I think we can say that the immediate goal is conversion, conversion of heart and mind.  And can we not say that the ‘end goal’ is the formation of Christ’s Body in our lives and in our midst? This immediate goal, lived each day, is the fertile ground for God becoming ‘all in all’ in our lives.  It is a beautiful image to behold: that Christ’s Body is being formed ever more fully in the heart of humanity, beginning of course with us!

Conversion, purity of heart, is to be our daily walk in this New Year.  Conversion is not necessarily about sin or something we have done wrong: it is a turning from something, perhaps, a behavior or a negative attitude, which are not leading us towards life and greater authenticity. We must keep in our awareness that the end goal is not disconnected from the immediate goal; they are joined together: as our heart and mind change, step by step, the presence of God’s love and mercy grows.   This continued unfolding and forming of Christ’s Body in our lives is the essential reality behind our ‘yes’.  Each of our lives is needed for this work of bringing forth God’s life through our lives.

How important is the on-going formation of Christ’s Body for us and for our world?  Pope Francis for beginning of this New Year said: “There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still.  There is darkness in personal, family and social relationships, but the light of Christ is greater still.  There is darkness in economic, geopolitical conflicts, yet greater still is the light of Christ”.  At core, our vocation is to become a vessel of Christ’s light and love. 

 Finally, I can think of no better way to depict how Christ’s body is being formed in us than the ancient hymn of Philippians (2:5-11): ‘Our bearing in heart and mind is to be like Christ’…his kenosis, his self-emptying is to be our way as well.  Kenosis creates space for Christ’s light and love to grow and to form within us. 

“All of us are called to give hope to our world by proclaiming with words, and above all by the testimony of our lives, that Jesus, our peace, is born” said Pope Francis. May our lives be this testimony in all that the New Year will bring.

Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess

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