Gifts Given, Gifts Received

January 3, 2021

This year has been like no other.  We as a parish have had to find access to spiritual growth in new ways.  The search echoes the journey of those following a star.  The journey, like all journeys, starts with excitement.  We get weary along the way and as new obstacles arise there is a search for help.  The Magi ask for help from King Herod himself.  This year as we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord we can choose to enter this narrative in many ways.  We can look at the gifts given.  They are precious.  We may not have gold or frankincense or myrrh to give, but what we have to give is something more valuable, our time.  We all have precious gifts to share and many have uncovered them with more time in the house and repurposing the living space to become an office, school and home.  Uncovering has led to an awareness of the art of listening.  We can also enter the narrative by the response to the gifts received.  Each of the kings went home in a different way.  We can easily focus on how we are different for having lived in a pandemic.  We are changed by this encounter.  We are changed by how we have been challenged to access our encounter with Jesus.  But this year, being like no other, we can enter the narrative through the journey itself.  Miles within ourselves have allowed us to see a transformation.  We were shut down with doors locked during Lent.  Palm Sunday found no processions and Easter was all electronic, but faith did not end.  The star at its rising still found an empty tomb.  The star at its rising also found a desire in us to make this work.  We have all grown weary and yet now during this Christmas season, we are open to some extent and faith has flourished.  Lights have been hung and the mystery was proclaimed.  It has been harder for us to make connections, but the holiness of God receives our gift and our journey, just as the Holy Family welcomed the Magi, kings, and astrologers of the past.  It is good to pause and reflect on how far we have come and how long the journey has been.  Our efforts will not and have not gone unnoticed.  Becoming alive at doing all we can, whether we have been back to Mass in the church or have stayed in vehicles; whether we have watched electronically or searched the World Wide Web to be fed, God is receiving our gift of desire.

This changes us, and we are to return to our hearts forevermore blessed knowing our God received all we could give Him.

Father John Ouper