2005-01-06 / Religion

Dear Friends:

Recently, I received a surprise phone call from a man in Brooklyn. He wanted to know something about the meaning of the Epiphany and when it was celebrated. I explained that the Epiphany is the Feast of the Manifestation of Christ. Although we usually think of it in terms of the visit of the Magi to Jesus, there are two other dimensions to the celebration: the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan and the Wedding Feast at Cana. The man, whose name was Derek, was interested in a point of Catholicism and said that he reads my column regularly.

After I hung up the phone, I thought to myself:: here is someone who is genuinely looking for God.

St. Augustine of Hippo (died 430) had something to say about people like Derek. He wrote: “You would not be looking for God unless you had already found Him”. Whether Derek realizes it or not, he is being prompted by grace to seek the Lord. In the depths of his soul there is a relentless urging to find out more about God - and maybe even the Church that Jesus Christ founded. What a wonderful thing to be looking for: God!

The truth is, of course, is that Christ is always looking for each one of us. Continually He reaches out and shows us signs of love and concern. Sometimes we miss them because we are too wrapped up in ourselves or a lot of things that impact on our lives. Many lose themselves in the insignificant and miss major issues. It is very hard to avoid the self- absorption syndrome. We are all, at times, very adolescent in our approach to life.

It might be helpful for us to think that Jesus Christ is the ultimate meaning of our lives. So often when I have any time to devote to the media, I smile to myself and think of how shallow all the talk and hype is. There are few genuine values and an unrelenting avalanche of false values, consumerism and plain paganism. I marvel how intelligent men and women (and there are many of them in the media) are devoting themselves (and their lives) to talking about non-sense. Believe it or not, I feel genuinely sorry for them.

They could be doing so much good, but have instead gotten themselves into the trivia (and worse) trap.

We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In the midst of darkness we are called to reflect Christ always and everywhere and try to bring people to Him. We will fail; we will not always do the perfect job — but we always keep on trying. There are so many who are looking for something more. Little do they know that they are looking for Jesus and the Church He established. Like Derek in Brooklyn, they keep looking for Christ — even in newspaper columns. The God of Surprises can always be found anywhere!

In Jesus and Mary,

Monsignor James M. McDonald

Monsignor McDonald is the pastor of St. Matthew R.C. Church in Dix Hills, Long Island.

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