Below is a reflection by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, entitled ‘A Shepherd’s Message.’ Published on January 9th, it is from Cardinal DiNardo’s blog:
I wish all of you a most Blessed and Prosperous 2017!
We are in the time frame of the two Feasts that end the Christmas Season: The Epiphany and the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus Christ. The theme of Epiphany — the journey of the Magi, the Guiding Star, the wickedness of King Herod and the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt — is one that is well known to us from an early age. The narrative in the Gospel of St. Matthew is so well told and so theologically apt for any age, year or culture. The Magi began with a natural curiosity and knowledge about the heavens and the cosmos; they were drawn to the Scriptures of Israel and the word of the prophets, and were forced to make a decision to follow the star and find the Child and then ADORE Him as Lord. The journey of the Magi was an act of faith and a process of discovering the meaning of supernatural Faith. Faith involves the joy of discovery, the trial of suffering and frustration that each believer faces. Further, the gift of Faith given will also require a flight by the Holy Family, the obedience of Joseph and Mary and their status as refugees in Egypt.
The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus manifests the same Christ Jesus as fully grown; humble and dedicated to His mission from the Father — a mission which, from the start of his life, was in His heart but was now stirring Him into action.
He publicly begins His mission by an act of submission to John the Baptist, an action that causes the presence of the Father to declare Him, “Well Beloved Son.” We also see the appearance of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Jesus’ Baptism is also an “epiphany;” He shines out. But how? He will not, as the Prophet Isaiah predicted about the Servant Messiah, “crush the bruised reed” or “extinguish the smoldering wick.” Instead, He will deal compassionately with those who are at the margins, who are oppressed, who lack direction. He will be a Messiah that brings hope.
The Church celebrates these Feast Days to honor the Lord and to call our attention as members of Christ’s Body to those who are afflicted, in need, who journey to faith, who are refugees and exiles and immigrants. We must not allow artificial divisions and distinctions between and among us to distort our appreciation for the human person.
National Migration Week always occurs in January near these two Feast Days of the Lord. Welcoming the migrant and the refugee is a major theme of both the Old and the New Testament. From the pilgrimage of Abraham to the journeys of the Magi, from the trip of the Virgin Mary to visit Elizabeth, to the journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem for His Passion, Death and Resurrection, the Christian Faith has always been sensitive to the plight of the “sojourner,” the needs of the migrant and the welcome given to the refugee.
In this sensitive time of a change of federal political administrations it is my hope that the members of the Body of Christ, which is the Church, will not forget Epiphany and Baptism of Jesus. That we will not only commemorate these events, but also deeply enter into the heart and take action so that we can all experience a renewed culture of encounter with the other in our world.
To the original post on Cardinal DiNardo’s blog: http://www.archgh.org/blog/main.asp?Tid=1889&cat=Cardinal%20DiNardo&id=39