Living the Epiphany

Epiphany means manifestation.  What the Church celebrates is the manifestation of our Lord to the whole world.  After being made known to the shepherds of Bethlehem, Jesus is revealed to the Magi who, in their turn, lead all the peoples of the earth to Jesus.  Thus, the Epiphany is an affirmation of universal salvation.

Jesus’ adoration by earthly kings implies that, in his Kingship, Jesus holds a great vision for the life of the world.  In this vision, Jesus wants us to join him so that we can be a part of God’s great plan – to liberate humanity from sin and all that blocks life from flourishing.  It is God’s will that we must flourish.  God desires us not only to realise our fullest potential, but to live it. For this to become a reality, Jesus invites us into relationship.

Jesus comes into a world marred with corruption, poverty, violence, disease and all forms of suffering that undermine our human dignity.  He comes into a fallen world where the need to respond to the plight of the poor and vulnerable is dire.  Jesus is born into a world fraught with hopelessness and plagued with pessimism.  To deliver his message of salvation, Jesus becomes a visionary.

It is in his outlook as a visionary that Jesus is able to transcend all ills that submerge humanity. In his salvation quest, Jesus reminds us that suffering, poverty, corruption and death are not the final word of our existence.  In his mission he holds his Father’s promises for us.

For his mission to be attainable, Jesus chooses to be a leader who serves.  In his Kingship, Jesus prefers to identify with our living standards.  This enables him to reach out for the interests of others.  It is Jesus’ wish that those who choose to lead others like him ought to become servants. This type of leadership is what we might call: servant leadership.

If this is how Jesus comes to us, then how do we as Christians strive to carry out our lives as leaders?  And what do we look for in those who want to lead us?

If our call is to go beyond Sunday worship, we have a responsibility to ensure that the vision of the one who came to save us is proclaimed, pursued and lived.  We have a duty to expect that those who govern us and who claim to be inspired by Jesus’ message exemplify the model of leadership that the 3 kings began to glimpse in the stable.

In this image of Jesus as a leader, Christianity is not just ‘pie in the sky’, but a reality to be lived in our homes, offices and the public space.  Our guiding question whenever we encounter corruption or any suffering is, “What would Jesus say or do in this context?”  If we genuinely pray and constantly desire to be in relationship with Jesus who manifests himself as Lord and proclaimer of salvation to the nations, we will automatically find ourselves asking the right questions and doing the right things whenever the need arises.  In doing these things, we truly become Jesus’ disciples.

Fr Gilbert Banda SJ

Fr Gilbert Banda SJ is interested in Ignatian Spirituality.

g.banda@jesuitinstitute.org.za @gilbertbanda
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