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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Jan. 8, 2012

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

January 8, Epiphany of the Lord

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13

2) Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

The young black woman working behind the prepared foods counter at Central Market had a glow about her. The way she waited on the customers ahead of me showed great sensitivity as she focused her attention on each of them and their needs.

I'd seen this before and had an idea of where it came from. I asked her what church she attended, to verify my suspicions, so that I could tell her that I could see the light of Christ shining through her.

The readings for Epiphany speak a lot about light. The Isaiah Scripture tells of the coming savior: "Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you." And later: "Nations shall walk by your light and kings by your shining radiance."

Most of the time when Scripture refers to Israel, it refers both to the nation and to those who are what the name Israel means: the God-ruled.

So our laws and our culture have grown out of that shining radiance, in their basis, if not in all the particulars of either culture or law.

Hospitals grew out of the life of the church. Our charitable institutions and governmental programs taking care of the poor -- of widows and orphans -- grew, and continue to grow, out of that revelation that is the shining radiance for Israel.

Jesus, from this time of his birth and the public showing forth of his origins that we celebrate at Epiphany to the present, is always becoming the light of God among us.

When the Wise Men arrived to do homage to the Holy Child one prophet had described as "a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel," they had followed the star until "it came and stopped over the place where the child was."

Then they entered and offered their treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh, two of which were mentioned specifically in the Isaiah Scripture that open these readings; the third, myrrh, a bitter herb used in oils for anointing for burial, was a prefiguring of this baby's ultimate destiny, a destiny that would burn brighter in our lives than any star.


How can I help bring the light of Christ into the place where I live: my family, my work, my service to others?


"Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come" (Isaiah 60:1).


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