Epiphany, Praise and Worship

Jan 7, 2020

The word Epiphany means manifestation, revelation, revealing or showing something.    But Wikipedia adds another dimension that includes a response, a kind of conversion, a discovery, a new awareness, a conviction.

For many of us, probably mainly older family people, the feast  of the Epiphany has meant the end of the 12 days of Christmas, the kings have come and gone and so have our Christmas decorations.  For younger ones I suspect that Christmas ended much earlier already.   For some the Christmas season ends after 40 days on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation.  It is a question of tradition but also of faith.

But in a sense some of those aspects are technicalities, liturgical rituals.  Rituals that should ideally lead to and manifest faith, that new understanding. One aspect is that as Jesus is revealed to the Magi who were Gentiles, he is manifested as the saviour of All Nations.

Another aspect highlighted often by Pope Francis is that God is for everyone, Jews and Gentiles, Christians, Muslims, even non-believers  and for everything that is created.

However this year, on the feast of Epiphany, Pope Francis added another aspect. He spoke of worship. So I asked myself, “What is worship?”  is it a decision, and to do what?  Or to use another word, adoration. Should we bow before a baby, genuflect as a sign of respect, bow down or curtsy as before an important person? Nowadays do we still show respect for others and have we taught our children to be respectful, for example clap their hands before saying thank you?  There are cultural ways of showing respect, of bowing before others, and maybe there is a remnant of a feeling involved. What feeling and how strong?  Is there a feeling of attachment, belonging, admiration?  And does this not indicate relationship?  Is adoration and worship an extension of such a feeling of belonging, care and concern?

But who or what do we adore or worship?  Ourselves, our beloved, our children – especially babies, our pets, our hobbies and possessions, God?

There was a time when primitive people worshipped the sun, or other created things, with strong feelings of attachment, respect and need. Now we Christians do worship one God, Catholics especially adore Jesus in the Eucharist but I do ask myself are these empty words that we sing thoughtlessly in hymns?

In parts of the Church the focus of worship tends to be on the crucified and risen Lord, or the Eucharist.   Interestingly in other parts I discovered a greater devotion to the infant Jesus and he Holy Family.. In Mexico every family had a small nativity scene, something which I believe could be very meaningful to all families.

Pope Francis, on the feast of the Epiphany, invited us to worship a baby, who is also God, who loves us, whom we are asked to love in return.  On what basis?  How strong is our understanding and relationship?  Have we personally had an Epiphany, a revelation of this love?

Through worship we discover that the Christian life is a love story with God, where what really matters is not our fine ideas, but our ability to make him the center of our loves, as lovers do with those whom they love. This is what the Church ought to be, a worshiper in love with Jesus, Her spouse.

At the beginning of this year I pray for a strengthening of my faith, in order to enhance the decision to worship as I grow in my relationship with God, creator and saviour.

My favourite prayer at present and I hope throughout this year will be the Canticle of Creation in which St Francis invites us to worship God in this way. “Be praised my Lord through, for and with all your creatures, which are all part of the family of families; brother sun, sister moon, mother earth,  fire, water, and ultimately even sister death who comes knocking at the door in so many forms for every aspect of creation.   Click here for the Canticle http://www.oremus.org › liturgy › ccp › canticle 


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