Jan. 3, the Epiphany of the Lord
Cycle C. 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
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
The first of this week’s Scriptures for Epiphany calls the people of God to see the light of hope that the Lord shines on them amid the world’s darkness. Raise your eyes, the prophet Isaiah tells us, and see your sons and daughters coming from everywhere to live in that light.
On a tour to Eastern Europe last fall, I visited several sites that recalled some of humanity’s darkest moments in recent history, and I was struck by the enormous number of people drawn to those places from all over the world.
I wondered why people come by the thousands every day to look into such darkness. Why do they walk through the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz or stand next to the remains of the Berlin Wall — memorials to victims of unthinkable human atrocity and oppression?
After a sobering visit to Auschwitz, our tour took us to nearby Czestochowa, a place of much more hope and light where for 600 years faithful, trusting Catholics have trekked to pray for God’s care and protection before an ancient icon of the Black Madonna.
Observing crowds stream to both Auschwitz and Czestochowa, I realized that both are places of pilgrimage and that people are drawn not to the darkness but to search for light out of the darkness.
Visitors listened intently to the guide at Auschwitz who spoke of individuals and families degraded and exterminated in the camp, whose dignity and strength survived through the recollection of their lives.
The guide told me her own grandmother suffered great personal tragedy during World War II. “She cried and said, ‘There must be no more war,’ and that is why it is so important to me to show what happened here.”
In Berlin, after the wall came down, the city determined to leave some remnants standing as a reminder of the tragic effects of division and political oppression.
Pilgrims come to Auschwitz and Berlin to recognize the consequences of evil for humankind and to consider how to shine the light of goodness and hope in the presence of darkness. Isaiah proclaims. “Thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines.”
We are called to face the darkness and find — and bear — God’s light for the world.
Where have you witnessed God’s light in dark experiences of today’s world? How can you bring that light into situations where you recognize evil?