Guiding Star – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily January 5, 2020

“Today as we celebrate this feast of the Epiphany, we are once again invited to reflect upon that manifestation of the Christ child to the Gentiles.  The Magi, the Wise Men, really represent all of us as Gentiles coming to know the wonderful gift of salvation in Christ Jesus. We’re invited on this occasion, yes to go back in the history and think about those first Magi, those first Wise Men, who traveled to Bethlehem to discover the child Jesus.  Remember that they first went to Jarusalm feeling that the newborn King of the Jews would certainly be born into a palace. He would be born into opulence, into riches, into comfort and yet they were told, ‘Nope, we don’t know anything about any newborn king.’ And so they followed the star and found Jesus not in opulence, but in poverty there in the stable of Bethlehem and they came there and they worshipped him.  We too are called in our life to know that we are on a journey to discover Christ ever more fully within our lives. Christ is God and therefore we can never exhaust our relationship with him and so we are continually invited to deepen that relationship to be like the Wise Men seeking greater knowledge and love of Christ our King to come to know him ever more personally ever more deeply that that’s the vocation that we all have by reason of our baptism is to begin now what would be ours for all eternity which is a full union with God himself and so that is the challenge that is the invitation that this Epiphany feast presents to all of us.  We recall the fact that the Wise Men when they came they offered gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Gold for a king. Frankincense for a priest. Myrrh used in burial recognizing Jesus as the sufferer, that savior through his death and ultimate resurrection and so those gifts express that gratitude of the Wise Men, but we too are called to bring a gift to Christ. We too have a very special gift to offer to Christ the King and it is not Frankincense or Myrrh, none of those things at all, but rather it is the gift of our life, it is the gift of who we are, it’s the gift of our love that we bring and present to the Christ Child to the savior of us all.  Every time we come to Mass, there’s one gift that we bring to offer in gratitude for all that God does for us and that is the gift of our own love. The one thing that God does not have that we have is the gift of our self and that is the gift that we are called to bring and when those gifts are brought forward at the offertory time, those bread and wine, they really at that point symbolize us. They symbolize our lives, they symbolize our gratitude, our love and so we need to place ourselves on that paten to make that wine be an expression of the gift of our self at each and every Eucharist that we share. That’s the beautiful gift that we have to offer.

We also recall on the Epiphany that the Wise Men were led by a star that there was that bright star, that unusual constellation or whatever it was, joining together of two stars (there’s been various speculation about that) but there was a star that led them to Bethlehem to discover the Christ child.  Each and every one of us has had a star in our life. We’ve had a start that has led us to Christ. Maybe it was our parents or grandparents, maybe it was a friend, maybe a spouse, who knows but all of us have a star, someone who has guided us in our journey someone who has enabled us to know something about the faith about trust in Christ Jesus.  What a beautiful gift we have in the stars who have guided us to discover Christ Jesus, but we are also reminded that each of us is called to be a star guiding others to come to know Christ Jesus to come to know the truth that will truly set us free, the love that will go on for all eternity that we are called to be not a dull or dying star but truly one truly enflamed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Last October in our Archdiocese we had what was called the Enflame Convocation.  It was a time for us to think about how we could become more enflamed with the gift of the Holy spirit within our own hearts within our families and within our community and it was a beautiful experience reflecting upon the vocation that we have.  On January 25th we are going to offer a similar event here at Ascension and I would want this to be a personal invitation to each and every one of you to set aside that day of January 25th, it’s a Saturday from 9-4, to come to spend some time thinking about how God is enflaming your heart, your home, your community how God is seeking to work through you.  Part of the day will be spent in reflecting on some of the input from the convocation in October, but more importantly it’s to take time to reflect upon God’s working in our life and in our Parish today for truly we are as a parish called to be enflamed with that gift of the Holy spirit. Enflame Ascension will be a beautiful opportunity for us to come together for reflection and sharing and prayer.  It’s a time for us to be more open to that gift of the Holy Spirit to become that brighter star that shines that leads others to Christ Jesus.

What a tremendous vocation we have not just to be disciples of Christ, but to be missionary disciples to be those shining lights that enable others to come to know the wonderful truth and the love of Christ Jesus.  That truly is our calling. That is our vocation. There’s information in the bulletin on page 9 regarding the Enflame Ascension day and I’d invite you to read that. You can register there or you can go to our website and register there.  It is important that you register for this so that we know how many people to plan on, but once again please consider this as a personal invitation to you to take this little bit of time to reflect upon how God is calling us to continually discover Jesus more fully within our own lives and to be enflamed by that Spirit that we may truly be that shining star that guiding light that brings others to Christ Jesus.