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The Great Gift – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily January 2, 2022

“Now, what are you searching for in your life? Do you ever ask yourself that question or you think about that? What are you searching for? What are you longing for? Now, often times in the culture you hear, ‘follow your heart.’ Right? But St. Augustine says our hearts are restless until they rest in you O Lord,’ and in some ways all of us are longing for the Lord, whether we know it or not. But in the culture today, there seems to be kind of more of a movement of the sense of pure spirituality, that I’m just searching, I’m searching for God wherever I can find him. Whether I find him in nature or find him in my work or find him in helping others, but that’s where they find God, finding God. There’s this image that someone has come up with is quite interesting, it’s as if finding God is climbing up a mountain. In the different world religions or actually just different paths up that mountain. And it’s true if we if it was just finding God that way then it seems like that would be true, but for us, Christians, something else happened for us and that’s what we celebrate today. The Christmas gift is that Christ came to be like us, that God came to be like us. Not that we are searching for God. Really, the Bible is actually God’s love letter. In some ways, his mission to find us, not us finding him. And Christmas, there’s three times where Christ, where God is present before us. First is the incarnation where Mary says yes and in overshadowed by the Holy Spirit is incarnate with Christ. Then nine months later, we celebrate on Christmas the Nativity, where then God is now physically present before us. We can see him. Now the invisible God that we once tried to search for is now present before us. And then the third is what we celebrate today, the epiphany of the Lord where Christ is manifested before all the nations, before all the nations. It’s not that we’re searching for God, but more that God is searching for you, will you surrender to him? Will you surrender to him? Christ is the way the truth and the light. Yes, we’ve heard that. And in today’s Gospel, in some ways, he continues to represent that image. You see, the Magi at the time, there were kind of like astronomers, the wise men in the Persian countries and astronomers in astronomy they studied the stars and with their sophisticated ways of measuring out the stars and distance that they found how God was speaking to them. A god was speaking to them, but they followed this light. But they didn’t quite know what they’re looking for until they ran into hair, Harod. Then they knew they were looking for the Messiah, the Christ in Bethlehem, and so too many times in the world today people are searching, but they don’t quite know what they’re searching for. But we do, we do. Is is God. You know, the word, the word ‘word’ is logos. And so in the first chapter of John, what does it say? It says, ‘In the beginning was the logos, the word, the word was God, and the word was with God.’ The word, the logos. The logos is like the divine mind of God. It’s that divine mind, the creating God. Now, if you ever look at the words for study of something like biology or anthropology or sociology or psychology, -ology is the same root as logos, the study of. And really, all those help us see the world more clearly, doesn’t it in a certain area? And the more you search it, the better you can see.

Now that light, that divine mind now we can truly see unhindered and he comes to us in a baby, not in a thought, not in a philosophy, but in a person that we can get to know. That is the great gift. The first reading today pretty much prophecies this whole epiphany that the light will come in the darkness and that there will be frankincense and myrrh brought by kings to him. But the Israelite people were the chosen people. So they knew Christ would come to them, but today it shows that Christ comes to all nations for the Magi were the gentiles. But they kind of represent at the time, the most sophisticated of all people of all cultures that Go comes to them too to bring them closer to him. He sends that star and so they come. The first people that the angels bring were the shepherds, the poor people. The message came to them first. But now also comes to the Magi, the rich, the sophisticated. Christ comes to bring all the nations to himself. And unlike that whole metaphor of finding God up a mountain now, Christ levels the mountains and lifts the valley, so it’s flat for us to come to. And really, that is the mass that Christ comes to us present for us, for us to receive him so that we may see clearer that we may love as we wish to love. And that is the great gift of this, this time of Christmas the ending here in the epiphany of the Lord, that God is truly with us. We are not alone.

So this year? How can you receive Christ in your life? What is something you can surrender to him? There’s tensions in each of our lives, and we really sit with it. It will speak to you. What is it that you need to give up? What is Christ calling you to that you may let go of so as to receive him more fully in our lives? At each mass we do, it’s the preparation of gifts where we bring together our sacrifices to the Lord. We bring it to him, but he transforms it to give it back to us more fully. And so that also represents  each of our own spiritual lives. If we’re willing to surrender our lives to him, he will give it back 10 times more. So as you come to receive the Lord today, where Christ is truly present before you in the Eucharist, let us have the strength and the courage to let go to him to the God who has come to search for us that we may receive him, see him more clearly in our lives, so we may love others as he has loved us. Amen.”