Short homily prior to baptism of Sam - Epiphany 1
01 January 2012 11:00 | Fr. Roderick Leece
The journey of God who becomes flesh…and the journey of mankind exemplified by the Magi…converges on the glorious feast of the Epiphany.
The manifestation of God in Christ at this feast is a reminder of who God’s gifts are for…not just for Christians…still less for a particular denomination…NO…God brings blessing on all peoples – just as He promised to Abraham and his seed for ever…a message proclaimed by the prophets too of universal salvation.
The Christmas message comes first to poor and humble men – to the shepherds. But how wonderfully God adapts the mystery of Christmas, the gift of the Word made flesh, to the ability…the capacity of his hearers to understand and comprehend. For the simple shepherds – a manger…for the Magi a star…for the learned scribes, scripture…for Herod the wise men from the East.
The Magi are astrologers…supposedly expert in seeing the meaning of events from observing the planets and stars. Rather more seriously regarded than modern practitioners who are the cuddly, rather lightly regarded, Mystic Megs of the red tops. They are probably assumed to come from Babylon, where a small Jewish community existed…and were perhaps priests of some ancient religion…possibly Zoroastrians. A religion founded in Persia, about the sixth century BC…and still the religion of the Parsees.
They follow the light of a star, using human wisdom…natural intelligence which brings them first to Jerusalem…the centre of the Jewish world. In God’s plan, their human wisdom and learning must give way to the revealed scriptures…to the supernatural revelation of God’s love…and there is a message here for those who think that human wisdom alone will bring mankind to God.
No – they follow the light of a star to Jerusalem, which leads them to the light of revelation recorded in the Bible, in order to learn where the child Jesus was. The light of the star…the light of Scripture…brings them to the light of world. They then had to return home by a different path…the path of new life…carrying deep within them the guiding star of having seen and encountered Jesus.
It is a joy to baptise a convert to Christianity, who hails from the same area in Persia…Sam who was born in Iran to Jewish parents…and who comes to be baptised today via several years in Canada and here in London…we welcome you who have followed the light to Christ…who today begins a new life and new path…carrying deep within you the light of Christ…a light for the whole world to treasure and enjoy.