Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, Jan. 8, 2017

"They all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses." -- Isaiah 60:4

“They all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.” — Isaiah 60:4

 

Jan. 8, The Epiphany

Cycle A. 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 Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

One of the things I love most about holidays is the anticipation of gathering our whole family in one place. Multiple adult children in several different cities on two continents present quite a challenge to get together. Throw some in-laws, stepchildren, ex-spouses and new babies into the assembly, and you’ve got quite a group! At the center of it all is my mother, who rejoices when all her children come home.

As complex as the family tree has become, the varieties of relationships don’t seem to dilute the joy that permeates the holiday gathering. We’ve got relatives by blood and others by marriage. Other families have relatives by adoption — legal or otherwise.

My mother has two biological sons but she’s collected countless other “sons” along the way. Some represent ethnicities and cultures different from our own. Their presence is not merely tolerated. They’re all part of the family, and they each bring something special to the mix, even if it takes a while for some of us to discover what that distinctive gift is.

St. Paul reminds the Christian church at Ephesus of a mystery that has been revealed to him for their benefit. The Epiphany of the Lord is best understood as that kind of revelation — a sudden manifestation or a clearer understanding of something in a whole new, often life-changing way. St. Paul shares this epiphany with the church of his time: that gentile converts are not merely to be tolerated in the Christian assembly, but regarded as “coheirs” with Jewish Christians and “members of the same body.”

If we’re honest, we could admit that almost all of us in the Christian household of faith are, in fact, descended from these “gentiles.”

We’ve forgotten that we were once the outsiders; we’ve become secure, almost complacent in our identity as heirs of Christ’s promises. We need Paul’s reminder that there are still more “outsiders” being drawn to the good news of Jesus — people who don’t look like us, live like us or talk like us — whom the Lord is calling to the family gathering.

Our Father’s joy is dependent upon the welcome we extend to these brothers and sisters. Let’s roll out the welcome mat, pull up a chair and help them feel at home.

QUESTIONS:

Who around you seems to be drawn to Jesus’ light even though they are treated as outsiders? How can you welcome them into the family of God?

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