by Frances Correia
‘Arise shine out for your light has come, the glory of the Lord is shining upon you, though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples’ (Isaiah 60:1-2)
These lines from the Epiphany mass hold a promise of hope to a broken world. There is a recognition that our world is in darkness. Wherever we look we see signs of the brokenness of our planet and people. Whether we are concerned about the environmental degradation, about poverty, about famine, war or abuse, all these ills are part of our current reality. Yet in the midst of this darkness, Isaiah offers this hope filled call, ‘arise, shine out for your light has come, the Glory of the Lord is shining upon you’.
This is the other reality, the reality that God’s love, made manifest in Jesus Christ, is with us. In the midst of the brokenness of our world, in the midst of the suffering; Jesus comes. The reality that looks like foolishness, is that God is actually with us. God’s love is in the mess of our lives. God’s grace is available to us now.
How we live is shaped by our ability to be open and to co-operate with God’s grace. When I am overwhelmed by fear and despair at the state of the world, I am also limited from dreaming or doing very much. Behind the façade that our problems are economic, or social, lies a deep reality that at their core all evil is a spiritual problem. The opposite movement is to hope. If I can live from hope, then I can imagine a better reality. In hope I can ask for the courage to look at what is sinful in my life and for the grace to let go of it. In hope I can desire to collaborate with God and to take action to build God’s kingdom here on earth?
At Epiphany, we remember a few people, sometimes called the ‘wise men’, who discerned that something of great significance was happening and went off in pursuit of that hope. Their friends and families must have thought they were crazy. When they found what they were looking for it can’t have been what they were expecting. A small vulnerable child, born in poverty, and already being hunted by the local authorities. This child cannot have changed the basic outward nature of their lives. Yet there is a sense that their joy in finding Jesus was of immense significance for them. We don’t know what they did with the rest of their lives, but we can guess that they went home changed.
We remember their epiphany each year, and in remembering we are invited by the Holy Spirit to our own epiphany. Do I live in the reality of God’s offer of hope? How am I called now in the midst of this broken world to live with hope, to live with generosity? How can I choose to live out the reality that the Glory of the Lord is shining upon me?