This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany of Christ. The word “Epiphany” means manifestation and our Scripture readings reveal how Christ’s Epiphany has dynamic power. In Christ, God manifests Himself to us, so that we might respond with gifts of gratitude and conversion of heart. The story of the “three kings” is a wonderful and illustrative example of this Epiphany. The Magi, who were likely astrologers and magicians, left house and home, their families and all that was familiar to make the perilous journey to find the promised Savior. And where did they find him? In the field with the shepherds? In the manger surrounded by animals? In the temple with Simeon and the other Jewish clergy? No. In none of these places did they encounter the Holy Family. Remember eight days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph present him in the temple for the Jewish rites of circumcision and naming. So where was the holy family after the temple dedication, but before their desperate flight into Egypt? Where did the Magi find Christ? Scripture reveals: “And behold the star that they [the Magi] had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.” (Matt 2:9-11) The Magi find Christ in a home. And since the Scripture is silence about in whose home the Magi encountered Jesus, it invites us to reflect upon a great spiritual truth: that the primary place where we discover Christ is in our own home, in the midst of our family, friends and loved ones. Because the Magi encountered Christ in a house, there is a wonderful and beautiful Catholic tradition of the annual house blessing on the feast of the Epiphany. As a priest, I often have requests to come and bless homes of all variety, and it is always a great privilege to be able to bring the gift of God’s grace and peace. But in the time of pandemic, we should remember that everyone has the ability to call down the God’s blessings into the place where they live. As a way of helping folks to continue this tradition, I have outlined a DIY house blessing for you. All you need is a piece of chalk and holy water (which is available at the church. Do bring your own container!) Once you have chalk and holy water, there are three steps to this annual New Year blessing:
Step #1: Take chalk and mark on the inside lintel (the door beam) of your front door
20 + C + M+ B + 22
Step #2: As you are tracing each of the letters, numbers and crosses, say:
The three wise men
M Melchior, and
B Balthasar followed the star of God’s Son who became man
20 two thousand
22 twenty-two years ago.
++May Christ bless our home and
++ remain with us throughout the year.
Step #3: Using Holy Water, bless the front door and pray:
May all who come into our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us. Let this house be a true home - a place for family and friends. May it be the place from which we seek to serve those in need and may Christ dwell here in peace. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
May we always seek for Christ and discover him in the midst of our homes!
~ Fr. Michael