By A Different Way – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily January 2, 2021

“This great feast of the Epiphany is known as Christmas for the Gentiles because the Magi certainly represent the people of all the nations, non-Jews and they come and they worship the newborn king of the Jews, the savior of the world and they follow that star and wether that’s a symbolic star or an actual historical star, not long ago we had that joining together supposedly in eyesight of Jupiter and Saturn and how that was such a bright star. It’s very possible that that’s the type of astrological thing that they were following was something along that line, but nevertheless they were led to find Jesus. They come to Jerusalem. They inquire as to where the newborn king of the Jews is and they are given that indication from the prophet that it’s in Bethlehem. They go once again and they recognize Christ and they do him homage.

We are invited to do the same thing within our life and this feast is one for us to think about the manifestation of Christ within our lives. How have we encountered Christ during this Christmas season? How have we encountered the living Christ who is present to us today? For Christmas and Epiphany is not about just going back historically (although these are rooted in historical facts) but rather to go back spiritually as well and to recognize their present realities that we are called to encounter Christ today, Christ the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Son of God and so it is that encounter that we are invited to experience and to know and particularly in the Eucharist that we celebrate for in the gift of God’s word proclaimed in scripture, in the gift of the Eucharist, the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion, that those are called to be moments of encounter. The very last words of the Gospel today, the ones that kind of struck me more are the words that after they had had that message from the angel not to return to Jerusalem they returned home by a different route. Now obviously they’re talking about the fact of not taking the road to Jerusalem. Instead they probably went over the hills and down to the Dead Sea and then back north again, so there’s something geographical about that statement, but there’s something much more spiritual about that statement and is that it’s a statement that they are not to go back home as they came. There was to be a transformation. To go back by another route meant to go back as changed persons as different people and that’s the message for us is that we are not to go back to our daily life unchanged by this experience of Christ present in Christmas, present in the Eucharist, present in His Word. We are called to be transformed. We are called to be changed people. We’re invited to knock ourselves out of our complacency and to enter more deeply into that spiritual relationship with Christ. It’s a time for us to kind of think back, ‘When did I first encounter Christ within my life? When did I come to a more living faith in Christ Jesus?’ Was it through some classes that I had, was it some encounter, some sharing with my family, my parents? Was it with a retreat like Kiros or Christ Renews His Parish or some other experience like that? We are called to be changed by our experience of Christ Jesus. We are called to become new people, transformed new people brought about in new life. We are all invited, I think, to reflect upon that message this evening. How can we return to our daily life by a different route, by a different way as a person changed by our encounter with the living Christ who is with us today who abides with us who calls us to greater life to greater love?”