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Epiphany of Our Lord 2009

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Fr.Paul Weinberger

Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 199
Location: Greenville, Texas

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:20 pm    Post subject: Epiphany of Our Lord 2009 Reply with quote

Epiphany of Our Lord 2009
Homily by: Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas
January 4, 2009

They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit


As you can see in the bulletin, Saturday, January 10th, is the Feast of St. William, who is the Patron saint of our parish. It is the 800th Anniversary of the death of this saint. You can see that I have provided for you the many ways that authors referred to St. William. When I looked at different authors and what they wrote about his life, he was referred to by any one of these different names but there was on fact that each author recounted. He was a monk and this means that he lived in a monastery and was very attentive at prayer, but distinguished himself as being “most attentive” at prayer. He rose to be chosen as Abbot and then later designated as Archbishop of Bourges in France. The only way he would accept this position is if he was ordered to do so. His religious Superior and the Pope himself ordered it. St. William was a man that distinguished himself by his attention at prayer and each author recounts how he died; he died at prayer.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. The entire month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name as you can see on those beautiful calendars, which were sold here over the last couple of months. St. Bernardine of Sienna, who died in the year 1444, distinguished himself by preaching about the Holy Name of Jesus. He was a Franciscan and very much in line with St. Francis. He preached up and down the Italian peninsula. You can probably guess how he died; he died preaching. It is amazing.

Look at your bulletin on page five at January 7th, the Feast of St. Raymond of Penyafort. On that day St. Maximilian Kolbe was born. St. Maximilian Kolbe was thrown into a dungeon by the Nazis to die. He led all of those around him in prayer, getting them ready to die. He was in that cold, damp basement, stripped of all clothing and they finally gave him a lethal injection to kill him. Time after time when they entered the cell they would find him praying.

Today is the Feast of the Three Kings, as you can see depicted on the bulletin cover. It is a beautiful wood carving with a polychrome finish. The Pascher altarpiece in Germany is famous for its woodcarving. The Three Kings presented Jesus with gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold represents the return to God for what He has given to us; myrrh represents the passion and death of Our Lord, and what is with the frankincense? These two beautiful angels here both have something at the bottom here. Those gold pieces represent a thurible. The chains connected to the thurible are held in the hands of these angels. The thurible is used at times during the Mass. On a burning coal inside the thurible frankincense is placed, liquefies, and produces a fragrant smoke. This is not a mere whim.

If you look in the Book of Revelation you read St. John’s vision of Heaven, and there before the throne of God in Heaven are always two angels, who continually incense the Throne of God in Heaven. In a beautiful way, this is repeated here at Holy Mass. In the Book of Revelations St. John tells us the significance of the smoke. As the smoke rises from this Altar to the very Throne of God, St. John tells us that this is the prayer of the Church on earth. We have a direct connection; as small as our prayers are they go directly to the very throne of God. This is why the Holy Name is so important. The direct dial to God’s Heart is the Holy Name of Jesus. In John 16:23, Jesus tells us that whatever we ask the Father in His Name it will be given to us. We know that when Jesus said this that this was not a throwaway line.

You’ve seen those Charlie Brown cartoons and his teachers always sound the same, “Wa wa wawawa, wa wa.” That is how Charlie Brown hears it; it is nothing real important. I don’t know if it is just because it is a teacher or all adults. When Jesus speaks to us in the Gospels they are not throwaway lines. Remember the line that Jesus spoke in the Gospels about praying constantly? That one goes along with the one about asking God the Father favors in the Name of Jesus. We so ardently want this or that but we don’t really want it because if we did we would be praying for it.

The blessing over the frankincense as it is placed over the burning coal says, “May you be blessed by Him for whom you burn.” This second gift of the three gifts should captivate us today, and every day of this New Year. This time is a time of resolutions, which are made and broken automatically, but this is one resolution that every one of us should make and keep in 2009, to burn with love for Him, Who we adore, and to actually show this by turning to Him in prayer throughout the year. The saints I have just mentioned were models of prayer. There are many other such as St. Therese’, whose birthday was Friday. She prayed up until the very last breath just as Jesus prayed on the cross to the very end. So, we have a model of prayer.

These three Kings are directly related to us. In the First Reading, Isaiah talks about the nations going to adore the Lord in the Holy Land. Then in the Responsorial Psalm we hear, “Every nation on earth will adore You.” The word “nation” is used here very specifically by the Jews to identify anyone, who is not Jewish, the Jews and then the nations, the nations apart from the Jews. You and I, unless you happen to be of Jewish descent, you and I belong to the nations. Yet, as the prayers of this Mass so beautifully state, the good news of Jesus Christ goes out to the whole world, even to the nations.

Such good news deserves a response. The way that we can respond throughout the day is prayer. Yesterday we had the First Saturday Rosary and there were about forty present. We started at the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and then moved to the Holy Family statue and then moved on to the next statue of Our Lady. That statue is at the corner of the education building and is where Stuart and Stanford streets meet.

We were there around 12:15 or 12”30 pm on a Saturday and the weather was beautiful. Of course today is different; there is nothing like whiplash with weather in Texas. As we were praying at that time, people were driving by and we saw and heard many cars that had their stereos too loud. There was a lot of traffic on Stanford that day and so as the young ladies of the Sodality are standing in front of the statue, praying the third decade of the Rosary it was interesting. When you get to that decade of the Rosary and all the traffic is going by it shows you just how unsubstantial all that concern about going here and going there is.

I am not against doing chores or anything like that and most people can only run errands on Saturday, but when you put prayer up against the work a day world or the errands that life is always sending us on, you see how substantial prayer is and how unsubstantial the other is. Many people go to restaurants with others or alone, and many do not pray before they begin eating or after they have eaten. And some people, if they do pray they just mumble something but there is no Sign of the Cross before and after. We are ashamed to pray in public and that shame is misplaced. We should be ashamed not to pray in public; we should be ashamed not to pray at all during the day, but then again, there is that conscience that becomes numb with a repeated sin like not praying during the day.

The saints show us that they understood what Jesus said when He said to pray constantly and so they prayed throughout the day. We are just on the eve of the death of St. William; we have models we can follow. So, as these Wise Men are our models to follow today; we prove ourselves wise when we begin to turn away from what we are doing even if it is momentarily, and turn to the Lord in prayer. In doing so we know that our prayer doesn’t go to some dead-letter office but to the very Throne of God in Heaven. To have such immediate direct contact with the God, Who created everything seems to good to be true but it is true. It is only our lukewarmness that keeps us from doing this. When we read the newspaper or turn on the TV or radio and listen to the news we see that the world is in terrible shape and is made more terrible by Christians, who do not pray. The fruit of Christian life is prayer, especially the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, this perfect gift and prayer of Jesus Christ offered on the day He rose from the dead.

The gifts of gold and myrrh are sidelined for this gift of frankincense because it is so immediate. We should see that the Wide Men went in and adored Jesus just as the angels in Heaven adore God on His Throne. You and I can adore God and so we resemble the angels in that manner. We can also ask Him to intercede for us. As the readings here today mention, the Three Kings go before the manger in Bethlehem and you and I can go before Our Lord at anytime and know that our prayer has been heard and answered at the same time. We show ourselves worthy to be called descendents of these Magi if we follow their example, especially momentarily taking off our crowns, king or queen of this or that for the moment, and actually turn to the Lord asking His help and intercession, just as the Magi took off their crowns to prostrate themselves. It would be ridiculous if they didn’t remove them because they would fall off. They took the crowns off to humble themselves before the Lord in Adoration. And yes, there is no doubt that they had their own petitions to present to the Lord.

Whenever you and I take time out of our day to pray we are showing ourselves wiser than the world. For many a trip to St. William’s is at least a Rosary long; for some it is a decade and for some it is only the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but whatever it is, the trip to come here and return home can be a time of prayer.

As I mentioned last Sunday, parents are the willing slaves of their children; there are no two ways about it. Parents are ridiculously underpaid but it is foolish for parents who do not demand payment in prayer. You may be an unpaid, voluntary, slave of your children but every time you want to pray with your children all of a sudden the cash register starts to ring. These are times you will treasure the rest of your life, even if the thought of prayer is repulsive to your children, it is something you will treasure. As a parent you are leading your children to the stable at Bethlehem and are following the example of the nations, these Wise Men, these Three Kings.

They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

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