A vacuum sales man appeared at the door of an old lady's cottage and, without allowing the woman to speak, rushed into the living room and threw a large bag of dirt all over her clean carpet. He said,” If this new vacuum doesn't pick up every bit of dirt then I'll eat all the dirt."

The woman, who by this time was losing her patience, said, "Sir, if I had enough money to buy that thing, I would have paid my electricity bill before they cut it off. Now, what would you prefer, a spoon or a knife and fork?"

The word “epiphany” can mean many things.  It is used in reference to the appearance of God.  It can signify manifestation.  It denotes revelation.  But, the word that dramatizes it is patience.

True love can never be kept secret.  We learned from tradition that three wise men from various lands and with different experiences and backgrounds came in search of Jesus.  They had journeyed far and wide, knowing that the ancient prophecy would be fulfilled.   

They found themselves in a manger.  It was an epiphany of God that no artist, painter, or sculptor could ever capture.  The nativity scene is God revealing Himself to the Three Kings, through Joseph and Mary, and in the baby Jesus.  To the three kings, he revealed why we need to have hope.  Through Joseph and Mary, He revealed what it is to have faith. And in Jesus, he revealed how it is to love.

God’s revelation of himself did not begin in Bethlehem.  It began at the creation of the world. God’s revelation of his mercy and forgiveness did not begin when He created the heavens and the earth.  It began after the collapse and fall of Adam and Eve.   And, God’s full revelation of his love did not begin after our first parents were expelled from the Garden of Eden.  It began with a baby’s cry and a mother’s lullaby in a cave in Bethlehem.

As soon as God created man, the question presented was, “What are you?” As soon as man sinned, the question he asked was, “Where are you?”  And, as soon as Jesus was born, the question we need to answer is, “Who are you?”

We are human beings.  We are also human doings.  We are what we do.  We become what we are.  The highest reward for us is not only in what we get for whatever we do, but for what we had become for anything we had done.    The gift Jesus gave to the wise men was not just an epiphany of his person, but what they had become.  And the greatest challenge in our lives is not just to be what we are, but also to become who we are.

Becoming is one of the main reasons why God revealed himself. Becoming is one of the main reasons why we also need to reveal ourselves to God.  God loves us so much that he became like one of us. Should we not need to become so that we can show our love in return?

How can we become? The answer to this question is in the manger scene.  We become God's children by following the example of Joseph and Mary, the Three Kings, and the baby Jesus. We become through faith, hope and love.

God’s revelation of his life continued with the three wise men. They were called wise not only because they feared God, but also because they vowed to know God. And in order to know God, they looked for him. They searched for him. They pursued him.

Faith and hope they held in their hearts as they offered their gifts before the baby.  To symbolize his greatness since He is a king, it was gold they found fitting to bring.  To symbolize his service since He is a prophet, they brought him myrrh.   And to symbolize His ministry since He is a priest, they brought him frankincense. 

After the Three Kings had paid homage to our Lord, they went through a different way.  They became different persons.  Light has come for them because God’s glory has shone, as the prophet Isaiah wrote.  They were radiant at what they had seen.  Their hearts have throbbed and overflowed.  That is how God operates.  Once we have pursued Him, knew Him and loved Him, we become a new creation. 

How do we become? One word may express it for now.  That word is patience. Patience with God is faith. Patience with our selves is hope. And patience with others is love.

That is one of the wonderful messages of His epiphany and one of the great challenges of His revelation.  We, who received His message and had felt His love, are obliged to share that same message.  That His love may well be felt in all lands and in all places.  That we may all become one with Him.

3 January 2010

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