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God's Word on Sunday: God’s prophecies as relevant as ever

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  • December 26, 2021

Epiphany of the Lord, Jan. 2 (Year C) Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

In many respects, darkness has indeed covered the Earth during the last year. It has not been a pleasant or uplifting existence for many.

Negative situations have taken their toll, among them COVID, natural disasters resulting from climate change and economic difficulties. Add to this continuing political instability and the rancorous and hateful attitudes that divide us, then it is not surprising that anxiety and depression are at an all time high. But amidst all that darkness and gloom there is a brilliant light.

The prophecy is a lifeline — it shows us the way out of the darkness and into a future of brilliance, abundance and happiness. But that is the catch — we must follow the light.

The world is a mess because we are collectively out of harmony with the divine source that we call God. Greed, negativity, hate, selfishness and lack of love have altered in negative ways how we relate to one another and to our world, and they have formed the political, social and economic systems that are the cause of our grief.

Reaching for the light involves a massive change of heart and mind and a conscious effort to live in harmony with both the Creator and creation. The prophecy had several lives: the late sixth century BC, the time of Jesus and now in our own time. God’s prophecies have many lives and they are as applicable today as when they were given and written down so many centuries ago.

The people were exhorted to arise, for their light had come and the glory of the Lord had risen upon them. This event was not a one-time event, but a continual grace that God extends to us. Following that light is a joyful and thrilling process, one that opens our eyes to the beauty of our world and those who share it with us.

God is not going to fix our world, but God’s light is always greater and more powerful than our darkness. If we follow the light, the world and its people will be transformed.

God has always been active in our world and has worked continually for unity, wholeness and inclusivity. One of the major revelations in the New Testament is that God plays no favourites and freely offers grace to all. Often this has been forgotten and has resulted in divisions and injustices.

Christianity only works if we take this and many other things to heart and govern our behaviour accordingly. Paul reveals something that was kept under wraps for the longest time and was only in his lifetime revealed fully: All peoples are included in God’s plan of salvation and are welcome into God’s family.

The wise men or Magi who came from the east dedicated their whole lives to searching for the light wherever it could be found. Holy books, sacred traditions and reading the heavens provided them with guidance and illumination.

The light that they followed — certainly not an actual star — took them away from their comfort zone and all that was familiar, but they were convinced that it was worth the sacrifice. They were not kings; they were not named and the text does not disclose how many there were. All of that would come in the legends of later centuries.

Their encounter with Herod was predictable — he represents the fear and selfishness that always seeks to obscure and even snuff out the light. He tried lies, persuasion and trickery, but to no avail. God’s light is indestructible.

Finding the infant Jesus was a cause of immense joy for the Magi and it is a message for us. When we are open to the light, it is possible to be joyful and hopeful even in the midst of a dark and scary world.

The Magi were warned of Herod’s murderous deviousness in a dream, so they returned to their own land by another route. It would not be business as usual — the encounter would transform their lives and lead them on new paths.

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