Epiphany reminds us to share the Good News
In this week’s discussion, Archbishop George J. Lucas and communications manager David Hazen discuss the importance of the Feast of the Epiphany. The archbishop explains that the coming of the Magi invites us not only to look for Jesus in our own lives, but also share him with others. As specific ways to do these things in the new year, he urges us to get involved in pursuing the archdiocese’s pastoral vision and attend the ArchOmaha Unite day of unity this coming June.
Q: This weekend the church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. What do you think we most ought to pay attention to in this feast? Why is it important?
It reminds us that God wants to be known by his people, and he can’t be fully known unless he reveals himself in a way that can be received and understood.
Despite the choirs of angels and the other things that created something of a commotion in the middle of that first Christmas night, it was really a very humble beginning. Mary and Joseph were humble people and not prominent citizens, and Jesus was born in a very simple place. Even though the birth of the Son of God was a momentous occasion, not too many people knew about it right away.
As God’s plan unfolded further, more people got to know that the promise of God to save his people was being fulfilled in an unlikely way by the coming of a child. That news is revealed to and recognized by the Magi. These unusual characters presumably didn’t share the faith of the Jewish people, but they felt drawn in conscience to follow the guidance of the star, which led them to meet the newborn king. And so the Magi help demonstrate right from the beginning that the coming of Jesus is meant to be seen beyond the people of Israel.
It is a reminder to those of us who know Jesus as our Savior that his coming is not supposed to be just a private gift for each of us. God wants to be known by more and more people, and in our time, he is inviting us to share the Good News that salvation has come to us in Jesus Christ.
Q: It seems fitting, then, that this celebration falls at the beginning of the year when it’s natural for us to look ahead. This is a potent reminder to pay attention to the mission we’ve been given.
Right. We try to be alert, not only to the manifestation of Jesus in our own lives and experiences, but alert to the opportunities to share him with others. The coming of the Magi reminds us that there might be an opportunity to share Jesus with people who seem to us unlikely to be looking for him. It is God who creates an opening in the minds and hearts of others and we shouldn’t be reticent or stingy about sharing the joy of the Gospel.
Q: As we look ahead, then, what opportunities for seeing Christ more clearly and sharing him with others would you suggest that our local church pay particular attention to?
I would offer both an ongoing process and a one-day event. The ongoing process is the continuing implementation of our pastoral vision: “One church: encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, living mercy.” A number of people who work in our archdiocesan curia and those who are being trained in parishes will help us implement that vision in practical ways. I look forward in hope to more and more of our Catholic people experiencing the unfolding of that vision, and particularly a day-by-day, deepening encounter with Jesus Christ.
We anticipate that we are going to hear Jesus’ invitation to come into a deeper relationship with him during this coming year. In some ways this year will be like others that we have experienced, but in other ways there will be some particular joys and sorrows, challenges, consolations in this year. And so we anticipate that Jesus is going to be inviting us to experience his presence and is waiting for us to invite him to accompany us in these various circumstances throughout the year.
The one-day event I mentioned is called ArchOmaha Unite. The name reminds us that one of our pastoral priorities is to create a culture of unity across the archdiocese, a deeper sense of belonging to the body of Christ. Everyone is invited to come to the CHI Health Center Arena in downtown Omaha on Saturday, June 8. That will be the vigil of Pentecost, one of the great feasts of the liturgical year.
I look forward in hope to many thousands of people from across the Archdiocese of Omaha coming together on that day, the vigil of Pentecost. I picture us somewhat like those first disciples: We know that Jesus is promising us what we need in order to do that work that he is giving us to do, particularly the work of evangelization. Together, we will ask the Holy Spirit to renew in us the gifts that have been promised.
Q: What further direction can you offer us for fostering greater hope throughout 2019?
I would encourage us all to begin the new year with an invitation to Jesus to be with us in every experience over the coming months. It’s part of the plan of our heavenly Father that Jesus come to us in time and that we experience him not only in our imaginations but in our daily living. And we are privileged to do that through the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. We know that the Lord is with us. He is with us in profound ways as we celebrate the sacraments. But as we go about our daily responsibilities and in our private prayer, the Lord wants to be with us in all of that. So we can be with him if we invite him to be part of our lives.
We know from our experience that there will be things that come up this year that we haven’t anticipated. I think we should begin the year with the intention to ask the Lord to be with us and a commitment to look for him every day – whether we have a great day, or one when things don’t go so well. The Lord is not afraid of any of that and he doesn’t turn his back on us.
We ought to be intentional about our walk with Jesus and invite him to walk with us. He understands so deeply the will of the Father for our salvation. If we’re close to him, he’ll help us to see it. We may not see all the details at once, but if we remain close to Jesus, we will be on the path that our heavenly Father has marked out for our flourishing.