Epiphany

An atheist was seated next to a little girl on a plane and he turned to her and said,

‘Would you like to talk? Flights go quicker if you talk to a fellow passenger.’ The girl

laid aside the book she was beginning to read and replied, ‘What would you like to

talk about?’ ‘How about why there is no God, no Heaven or Hell and no afterlife’, he

replied, rather smugly. ‘Okay’, she said, ‘those are interesting topics, but first allow

me to ask you a question. A horse, a cow and a deer all eat the same stuff - grass.

Yet a deer excreted little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse

produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is? ‘I have no idea’ said the atheist, to

which the little girl replied, ‘If you know so little about manure do you really feel

qualified to discuss the really important issues like God, Heaven and Hell or the

afterlife?’

This feast of the Epiphany is all about our search for God expressed in the journey to

Bethlehem of the three Wise Men. Our finite minds are so limited that even the

greatest intellects fall short in their search, so much so that learned professors are

often atheists while lowly peasants don’t have to believe, they just know their God. I

was an atheist once, or at least close to being one, and I came to the conclusion that

if there is a God it will only be by Him revealing himself to me that I will ever get to

know Him. By my finite mind alone I am never going to figure out the infinite. If there

is a God he has to be greater than my doubts about Him or so I reasoned. So my

faith journey began with a simple act of trust without even knowing who or what I was

trusting in or even if there was something to trust. That was a long time ago and

seems a far cry from today where my heart overflows with a deep awareness of the

Divine Presence.

Epiphany is a strange sounding word of Greek origin. It simply means revelation, and

it’s like seeing something or someone more clearly then we ever have before, where

our eyes are opened to a beauty that was there all along. Sometimes it comes as a

sudden awareness and it takes our breath away. Someone we thought we knew

inside out suddenly gob-smacks us into seeing them in a completely different light


and we can no longer take them for granted. Occasionally its only when someone

dies or is no longer part of our lives that we see them for who they really are.

The ultimate place of wonderment comes from within our own heart. Most of the time

we think we know ourselves for better or for worse but there are times when we get

glimpses of something so much greater. We can call it our true Self or the God

within, whatever language we care to use. The psalmist says ‘I give you thanks that I

am fearfully wonderfully made’. St John said ‘We are already the children of God but

what we are to be in the future is not yet fully revealed.’ But we do get glimpses of it.

He also says ‘When I see the heavens the work of your hands, the moon and stars

which you have arranged, what is man that thou dost care for him, mortal man that

you keep him in mind? Then he goes on to say ‘Yet you have made him little less

than a god and with glory and honor have crowned him.’

All the facts we read about the universe, and its size, defy our imagination and make

us see how limited out intellect really is. Even to think that we have never actually

seen a sunset. As we look at the sun about to set it has actually happened eight

minutes earlier, so long does it take for the light to reach us. Yet our inner world is

even more extraordinary because it’s the place where God dwells. What a shame

that the vast majority live and die without any sense of their own greatness and the

wonder of themselves. Even to ask the question, are we comfortable with our own

magnificence, can be very revealing as to how we’re not.

Moments of epiphany are where mystery rules and we need constant contact with

mystery if life’s richness is not to become diluted. After their visit to Bethlehem the

three Wise Men have their dream that warns them to avoid Herod. Some people

can’t cope with mystery. Their attitude is all too limited, with values that are purely

materialistic. As the Wise Men avoided Herod, so must we steer clear of him under

whatever name or form he may appear. There are people who are toxic to our faith

life simply because they are too negative and not open to Spirit. To talk about deeper

realities to someone who has a closed mind is as the scriptures says ‘like throwing

your pearls to swine.’ For them life is about living till your heart stops and then you go

six feet under and that’s it, they may even tell you to stop fooling yourself and to face

reality. These are the ones who trample on caterpillars and think butterflies are for

the birds. Clearly, besides mystery, we also need our dreams. As believers we know

that the realities of faith are infinitely greater than the realities of the senses and that

no eye has seen or no ear has heard what things God has in store for those who love

him. The fool may say in his heart there is no God but the message of today’s

Epiphany feast is that wise men, and women, still seek him and can ultimately only

be found by Him.

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