Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 2, 1011 – Epiphany

Is 60:1-6 Ps 72 Eph 3: 2-3, 5-6 Mt 2:1-12

In the dim recesses of my memory there is a scene from an old movie where the leaders of a political party meet in a smoke filled room. There the captains of the party report on the needs and issues of their neighbors so that a strategy may be built to help their party win the election. I remember this scene today because it relates to the magi who came to honor Jesus in the gospel this morning.

According to some scholarly biblical commentators, the magi were not three kings as some believe. Rather, they were wise in the ways of the world and formed a special group of advisors to rulers in ancient Iraq and Iran. Some claim they were astrologers. Unlike our political parties, however, they also filled a religious capacity, like the astrologers who understood that the heavens had signs indicating God’s action in the world. Their role was both political and religious. These magi saw a rising star, the sign of a newborn king that seemed to move in the direction of Bethlehem.

The story in Matthew’s gospel indicates that they went to King Herod to get a location on the new born king. Herod, however, saw in the child competition for his throne, a throne “leased” if you will, from the Roman government. The prophecy regarding the messiah’s birth was pretty obscure and Herod had to consult his advisors in order to learn where the messiah would be born. As the magi watched Herod they recognized a cagey leader who would protect his throne at any cost. Herod was willing to kill his own people in order to retain office. This is no real king of Israel. The psalm today tells us about the true king: he was to be the king who delivered the needy and the poor who called on him for help; he would be the king who had pity on them and saved their lives. The magi could see clearly that Herod was no one who would deliver the poor and needy from their sufferings and save their lives. On the contrary, Herod could sacrifice his people for the sake of his own power.

The magi left Herod and went to the place where Mary and Joseph had set up house. There they honored Jesus, whom we discover later in his life, is the true king of Israel. They left gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then, rather than revealing Jesus’ location to Herod, the magi used another road to go home and to avoid Jerusalem altogether.

The scriptures today hold important meaning for Christians. I want to look at the role of leadership that is described in this passage. The true king of Israel is one who has a heart for suffering people and makes his mission the work of saving their lives. Some days I wonder if our political or religious leadership ever envisions their leadership in this way. If not, then they are not true leaders in the model of Jesus. Jesus spent his life preaching good news to the poor, healing their infirmities and sacrificing his own life so that they might receive life. We are called to live in the Spirit of Jesus, healing and giving life to all who suffer or have no voice. Each Christian is baptized in the spirit of Jesus so that we might become the same kind of person Jesus was to all whom he encountered, whether Jewish or Gentile.

Today, we are called to expand our vision, to see that we are called to love, serve, heal and give life to everyone, not just our families or countries. The early followers of Jesus were convinced that the good news was good for the poor in a most special way and for all who were not even expecting the messiah, the Gentile world.

For green Christians, the Epiphany of Jesus points us to a larger vision of healing and giving life, too. We see all creatures as worthy of our loving service, especially those that need healing and life. Like Jesus who came to announce good news to those who were outside the boundaries of acceptability and bring healing to their wounded lives, we are called to bring life and healing to those who are not even considered worthy of life today: species in danger of extinction, rivers that are used as sewers, mountain tops that can be blown away for the minerals within. They are the new poor, the ones barely hanging onto existence in the face of massive violence.

On this Epiphany let us embrace our role as leaders who include the care of all in our circle of life. Let us discover how we can lead with loving hearts for the most vulnerable in our lives. In this time, we are acutely conscious that the “most vulnerable in our lives” includes many human beings in need, but also includes many natural phenomena we humans have exploited and diminished. Let us declare a new Epiphany where we find Christ living within us waiting to live out His mission of healing and life through us in many domains throughout the human and natural worlds.

Key words

Bible, Scripture, Christian, environment, ecology, lectionary, reflection, homily, sermon, Catholic, green, environmentally friendly, sustainability, the common good, the commons

About Me

The Green Nun earned an MA in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley and is currently completing a Masters degree in Earth Literacy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. This blog spot is being done as an integration project for the MA.