Beneath the stories of Epiphany, with Wise Men come to visit and a treacherous king ready to kill, lies the meaning of our faith and our convictions. When we ask ourselves how we know that what we believe contains the values of our daily convictions we are asking ourselves questions of meaning and theology. The meaning of this feast is that the Christ is the revelation and the manifestation of God in our hearts, our community, and our world.
Revelation opens newness and embrace and puts aside fear and paralysis. Revelation moves us to ideas and visions that change our lives. It changes our world view. In 1493 the mapmaker Hartmann Schedel drew a map of the world that placed Jerusalem in the center and showed the ends of the known world at the time of Noah's Flood. At the fringes of this map Schedel noted the great and feaful unknown. He wrote in Latin, "Haec incoluerunt monstra," which means, "Here Be Monsters." How different the revelations of Christopher Columbus after 1492 would change that fearful view of the world : known and unknown.
Epiphany is about Revelation cutting through fear and the unknown. However, it is also about the daily deepening into our hearts and visions of our understanding that this Christ Child is the Light of my life and of our world. This is what convinces us : that Jesus came to reassure us and to be the One who shows the Way.
This ability to live daily and resolutely the conviction that Christ is our Light is what the French philosopher, Jacques Maritain, called the "freedom of those who are peaceful."
The second aspect of this Epiphany celebration is to manifest the revelation we have received. We must show to ourselves and to one another that we deeply value and daily live the conviction of this Revelation. And this takes not just one event or another but the lifelong learning that comes from the stories and the "hard knocks" of life.
That other well-known French philosopher, Brett Favre, has something to say here. Recently he received a Sportsman of the Year Award for the glories of his career as Quarterback of the Green Bay Packers and for his humanitarian work off the field. In an interview following the ceremony he reflected on what he now values in his life. This is a sports figure who has had the highest success an athlete can have in his sport : Super Bowl Trophy, Ring, World Records and all the rest. This is also a man whose Father died young, whose wife had breast cancer, and whose family experienced the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Brett Favre, reflecting on the relative value of all these things, said he would return all the awards and all the accolades if only he could have his Dad back, his wife in full health, and all his family safe. And who wouldn't, we ask? What Brett knows now and what he manifests is that sense of value which revelation brings.
This is what we celebrate today. To receive and deeply apply the Revelation, the message that Christ is Light of the World charges us with the responsibility to Manifest by how we live that we are messengers of that Light.
We also become Wise Women and Men when we become such Lights and slay the monsters of fear and lack of conviction.
Christ be Our Light!