In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis references a thought from Pope Benedict XVI: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Today we celebrate an encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ! This simple but holy event in time dramatically changes human life, pointing it toward a new horizon and giving it a decisive direction. This is a message and truth that is not meant to be shared with only a select few who qualify but with the entire world. Pope Francis continues saying, “Thanks solely to this encounter or renewed encounter with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being.”
Look around at people. Where is life heading for them? What gives them direction? Even we who are people of faith can get distracted and lose our focus. God, in all of His fullness, is revealed in Jesus Christ and we can encounter Him! God is tangible, real, vulnerable, poor, and full of wonders, surprises, and opportunities. For those who are struggling and lost, today is a day of great joy. All they have to do is reach out and touch the truth of Christ. This presence is revealed in the poor, exploited, and vulnerable ones who cry out for compassion and love. But it is also found in the faithful ones who see in the Epiphany of God a liberation from structures and systems that hurt us, a narrowness of mind and heart that constricts us, and an absorption in our self-agenda that prevents us from seeing anything other than ourselves as important.
We have been given the charge of preaching this Good News. If only we could find a way to be more effective, it might stand a chance of doing what God intended it to do. There is always tomorrow and our memory of that bright new light that shone so brilliantly that Bethlehem night pointing us to truth and reminding us that we are loved.
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