The first reading for yesterday’s Mass of the Epiphany came from the prophet Isaiah.
It speaks of new hope for a people who have endured and suffered much. But the new hope is not something insubstantial and vague. It is a new, present reality. The light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising – even in the presence of darkness.
Arise, shine out, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord is rising on you,
though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples.
Above you the Lord now rises
and above you his glory appears.
The nations come to your light
and kings to your dawning brightness.
Lift up your eyes and look round:
all are assembling and coming towards you,
your sons from far away
and your daughters being tenderly carried.
At this sight you will grow radiant,
your heart throbbing and full;
since the riches of the sea will flow to you,
the wealth of the nations come to you;
camels in throngs will cover you,
and dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
everyone in Sheba will come,
bringing gold and incense
and singing the praise of the Lord.
What is asked of us is that we see this and respond. Pope Leo the Great said God made us without us, but will not save us without us. And why? Because salvation is about relationship, about our turning to and being engaged by the Lord, Jesus, who walks with us each day. It is through our being with him that we can grow radiant, with hearts throbbing and full (remember the disciples on the road to Emmaus.)
Photograph of crib scene, Madrid. (C) 2003, Allen Morris.