Tuesday 5 January 2016

Gifts and the Epiphany

I’ve said time and time again not to believe anything one hears from a pulpit whether it be by a Bishop or Priest, and not to simply believe whatever one reads on some internet site (be by a Bishop or Priest or theologian) because we can all get it wrong. My recommendation is always to buy and study the Catechism, because we can all be too easily astray. For example, we’re singing ‘We Three Kings from Orient are’ at the moment, but how many kings does the bible say there were? It says ‘some’, it doesn’t say three. And it uses the words Magi, rather than kings. So not only do we not know how many Magi there were, we don’t know if they were teachers, kings or just distinguished men. And how old was the Child Jesus when the Magi came? Reckoning by the date the Wise Men gave him, Herod had all the male children less than two years old killed, so Our Lord may have been a two-year-old by the time the Magi visited. And He may not have been lying in a stable manger when they arrived, for Matthew tells us the Magi went into a house, not a stable.

This needn’t disturb us; the scriptures do say wise men visited the infant Jesus bringing three gifts, and stables were often the lower floor of a dwelling, so it may have been the very same building visited by both the shepherds and the Magi. But the actual biblical text compared with our hymn sheets should wise us up to getting to know our Faith well, by getting a Catechism and learning the official, formulated teaching of the Church as set down by the Magisterium over the centuries.

But to turn to the message of this particular Feast of the Epiphany: the romanticism of Christmas with a star in the sky, angels singing ‘Gloria’ and our families and friends exchanging gifts, food and drink, can bring us to miss the message of Christmas -which is one of reconciliation between God and man. God’s gift to the nations is His Son; what is our gift to Him going to be? Well, there are three traditional offerings that we are expected to give God: prayer, fasting and almsgiving; we can also give more time to visiting the sick, the housebound and the imprisoned. But reconciliation between the individual soul and God is only half the story: we need to be reconciled to one another too. So, is there someone to whom you need to say ‘sorry’? Reconcile with them. Is there someone whose reputation you’ve damaged? Restore their reputation in the eyes of those to whom you defamed them. 

If this jubilee Year of Mercy is going to achieve anything it must focus on the sacrament of reconciliation, and the celebration God’s mercy celebrated in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. So go to Confession; go regularly (at least once a month) to grow in the grace of reconciliation with God. And feel free –indeed be ready- to challenge the sinful attitudes and actions of those who are engaging in sin; challenge them in order to help them to reconcile their lives to the beauty of goodness and truth. Call them to meet Christ in Confession too. In the Epiphany, God is calling to all men of all nations; let us then give all folk the opportunity of being healed by Christ, the Light of the World. 


  1. Collar and Tie seems to have become collar only. What happened to the tie? I was always amused to read these pieces too.

    1. Yes, I do try to encourage him to make more posts but he says he is not as erudite as he would like to be (that has never stopped me!) He is also well known to be (and admits to being) a procrastinator!
      God Bless.

  2. So many people hate confession, i understand nobody likes to confess their sins to a priest a holy man, a man of God. First there is the majesty and purity of Christ represented in the person of the priest this alone is enough to cause a person to fear their confession. Second their is the fellow human being of the priest, a man with the same fallen nature as any of us... will he judge me will he condemn me will he dislike me.... third this man this priest knows our weaknesses and the sins we are having trouble with or having trouble overcoming what if he refuses absolution will he think we havent tried or that we fell too easily.

    But to look at confession in a different way there we find the mercy of God his love and understanding we re experience the rebirth of baptism ressurection from the dead and freedom from slavery to sin. We are like children getting a hug from God and we have the full assurance of his forgivness. When coming out of confession you have spring in your step and a joy in your heart...Confession is the greatest sacrament after the eucharist... its certainly not easy but i believe the blessed sacrament and the sacrament of reconcilliation are fundementally connected and with the way the world is today with all its temptations with its expectations with all its permisivness its easy to loose sight of our sinfulness and to offend God without even knowing it. I dont judge and i certainly dont know if its true but apparently the lines for confession are significantly shorter than for the eucharist so either we have lost all sense of our sinfulness or confession is too frightening... there is of course the problem of convieience of confession times and the excess work load of the priests and the feeling of not wanting to bother the priests.

  3. Thank you Fr. Well said. Probably not popular but well said any way.

  4. I have just read Fr Hrdon's critique of the CCC in Christian Order. It seems that even the Catechism has not escaped the influence of Modernism.
    The Church of my youth seems to have almost dissappeared.


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