Visitation of the Magi, Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo,
Ravenna, Italy (6th century)
Worship and Offering
Today we celebrate Epiphany. We remember the visit to the Christ Child by the Magi, Zoroastrian priests of Persia, as related to us in the Gospel according to Luke 2:7-12.
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
From the first appearance of the Word of God on earth, humanity, near and far, have responded with worship and offering. Worship as due the incarnate God. Offerings of the best and most precious we have in response to God’s gift of limitless love in Christ.
During this pandemic we have all come to better understand our own fragility and vulnerability in mind, body and soul. We have been moved by the struggles and losses of those around us to offer the best we can out of empathy. We have also been moved to offer our assistance out of gratitude for whatever stability and fortitude we have maintained.
Yet, for us Christians today, as with the Magi so long ago, the ultimate inspiration for our worship and offering is our encounter with the living God; the presence of God in our hearts and before our eyes. The adult Christ tells us “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matt. 25:35,36) It is no accident that this passage is read on FaithWorks Sunday. FaithWorks is our act of worship and offering when we encounter the living God in the homeless and hungry, the lonely and excluded, the at-risk and in pain.
In 2021 we celebrate the 25th anniversary of FaithWorks!
Let us offer our gratitude to those who have worked in this vineyard of the Lord these past 25 years. Let us celebrate by making this year a special year of worship and offering. Be it out of empathy or gratitude, let our worship and offering be in response to our encounter with the living God who surrounds us, fills us, embraces us, and is on the street, in the hospital, in places of isolation, wherever there is pain and suffering.
Happy New Year and a Blessed Epiphany!