Monday, January 04, 2010


Some time ago my religious tradition adopted the practice of observing the Feast of the Epiphany (traditionally, 06 January) on the Sunday between New Year's Day and 08 January. It's a little confusing, but it works.

I suspect that since so few people tend to show up in church on non-Sunday feast days anymore, the folks behind the church calendar figured the feast is important enough to translate it to Sunday. That way there'd be a better chance of more people showing up, to be reminded of who we are by hearing the Scripture readings appointed for that celebration.

The point of having Scripture readings at liturgical events is, of course, to tell us our *own* stories, as we hear of the shared experience, strength, and hope of those who have gone before us.

I was actually surprised at how few, relatively, showed up for church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here on Post. I was expecting to see at least some of the ones I know are nominally Catholic, but none of them turned up, and our numbers for those two Masses here were not significantly different from other, Sunday, celebrations.

There were people who went off-Post on Thursday evening to Mass in the town where I concelebrated the liturgy in a language I don't read, write, speak, or understand. (And I don't mean English. It's amazing the abuse I get here!) Others went off to Midnight Mass at the Church of the Black Madonna, as well.

But even with those (approximate) numbers added in, attendance -- or lack thereof -- surprised me. Last year, when I was Down Range, we had proportionately much larger crowds at each of the six Christmas Eve/Day Masses I celebrated.

So I guess the wisdom of moving the observance of Epiphany (the "Three Kings," who of course weren't really kings at all...) to Sunday makes sense. I'm always tickled by the line from Matthew's Gospel which reads, "When King Herod heard this [that the magi were looking for a 'newborn king of the Jews'], he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him."

I suspect my friends who go to a lot of those Al-Anon meetings would say that the residents of Jerusalem were perhaps a teeny-weeny bit enmeshed with King Herod, if their emotional response to situations depended upon -- and mirrored -- his. It sounds to me as if they needed 100,000 Al-Anon meetings for starters, as my friend Tom W says!

It's always a good thing, I believe, when considering the story of those magi journeying from far away to a future and destination unknown to them, to ask ourselves what star *we* are following in the pursuit of what holds our attention and illumines our dreams.

Epiphany blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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