Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Lord shines on us!

SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD
4 January 2009

A man was driving in a zigzagged road. It was night time and a thick blanket of fog made it impossible for him to move on. He runs the risk of meeting an accident if he continues and so he stops by the side of the road to think of a way to get himself out of the mess.

Some minutes came, a car with strong headlights passed by.

And then it hit him: he could follow the car, and he’ll be able to manage reaching his destination.

Some kilometers after, still following the car, he was driving in a breeze! He just needed to drive closely to the car in front. No sweat.

He drove further…

…And further.

And further…

Until the unexpected came. The car he was trailing behind made a calculated stop. The man became anxious, but he tried to relax. He waited for at least 30 seconds and when there was no movement, he decided to let out a friendly honk.

No movement still.

A whole minute ensued. And he was impatient. Telling himself that the man driving the other car is blocking the driveway, he blared out an irritated horn.

Then, there was a sudden movement in the car to the fore. The man saw distinctly that the driver alighted from the car.

The man readied himself for any altercation that might take place. He tried to collect his thoughts and composed his arguments before finally rolling down his window in order to confront the driver.

And then the driver of the other car goes “This is my garage. Do you have any problem?”

End of the story.

This little tale demonstrates to us the importance of a guide.

I’m sure that there have been some points in our life when we grope in the dark and hope that someone comes to lead us out of that situation.

Two years ago, I was with some friends in a mountain in Batangas. The beauty of the environment and the company of each other must have caught our fancy that we hardly noticed that it was already dark. We had to make our pace faster but to no avail. Our camp was far from our present spot. That time, it was already pitch dark that we could not even recognize each other. Good thing, the sky was clear; the stars cast luster to the path and before we knew it, we were just steps away from our camp.

But the darkness I am talking about may not be just about the philosophical absence of light. Darkness applies as well in those events in our life that only seem to lead us to hopelessness and desperation: conflict among our peers, a looming failing mark towards the end of the semester, deep-seated vices which we very wish to kick out of our system, the list goes on and on.

And when these dark moments visit us, we find ourselves praying for the grace to be led out of that situation.

God’s wisdom and love must have considered this situation. When it would be utterly impossible to slip away from misfortune, He sends us someone or even something to relieve us of the pain, to soothe and comfort our tired bodies and spirits. A friend who comes over upon receiving your text message asking for help, a mother who is quick to offer support when failure is imminent, and an encouraging word from a significant other that she would stick it out whatever happens.

In this feast of Epiphany, our Gospel passage (Matthew 2: 1 - 12) draws us to the importance of the star that led the Magi to reach the newly born Child. The star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was.

Like many of us, the Magi also had to endure the long journey in order to reach their destination. And in the depth of one gloomy evening, a star brilliantly shone before them. This caused among them rejoicing “exceedingly with great joy.”

And going into the house they saw the Child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Towards the end of the passage, when the Magi had reached their destination and offered their presents to the Child, the star seemed to have secretly vanished into the thin air and thus, did no longer receive even the smallest attention from the evangelist.

The star must have faded away to offer brilliance to the newly born Child. And rightly so, the Baby in the manger enjoys the limelight.

The Prophet Isaiah, in the first reading (Isaiah 60:1-6) , invites each of us to “Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”