January 8 – Epiphany of the Lord

The Heisman trophy is awarded to an individual college football player for his outstanding performance on the field.  The trophy is a bronze figure of John Heisman with arm extended (a stiff-arm) to ward off any person getting to the football.  Sometimes I think this trophy represents more than just a great football player but also a common image of how we can tend to live the Christian life.

For better or for worse, relationships have the ability to change us.  For that reason, we can often carry the same stance as the Heisman trophy: a stiff-arm that wards off potentially life-changing encounters.  However, the Lord is constantly inviting us to relationship—both with him and his Body, the Church.  Although keeping others at arm’s length can seem more comfortable, it also means that we could be keeping Our Lord at a distance as well.

The Magi offer us a good example. Instead of avoiding new relationships, they sought them out! They went on a long and arduous journey to enter into a new relationship with the King of the Jews. Unsure of what their meeting would mean, they stepped out of their comfortable lives as kings in search of something even greater. What is more, they had the humility to seek wisdom from others on their journey, leading to their eventual discovery of a little child with his mother, and a new King who was worthy of all their gifts.  The last line in this narrative is subtle but profound: “They departed for their country by another way.”  Their lives were changed!

As we begin a new year, I encourage you to be open to new relationships.  To put away our Heisman stance and open ourselves to the Lord and his Body at Our Lady of Mercy. May I even encourage you further by taking part in the many places of encounter especially where you haven’t had a chance to take part in, here at Our Lady of Mercy.  From encountering the Lord through those in need by helping out at PADS, the Mobile Food Pantry, the funeral and homebound ministries, to diving deeper into profound intimacy with the Lord through the upcoming CRHP Men’s and Women’s Retreats, the next Bible Study on the Chosen, or the upcoming powerful gatherings in the Rescue Project. May our encounter of the Lord, in these places of encounter or on our own seeking of Him, have the same result as it did for the Magi, that our lives be changed!

Father Michael