Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany; a word that means “a divine manifestation.” At the heart of the Gospel is the story of faith between two major characters. First, we have the Magi, more commonly known as the three kings. They are called wise men because they spend their lives trying to understand and unlock the mysteries of God and the nature of the universe. They find, through the guidance of a star, the King of Kings and can worship him in a foreign land. On the other hand, we have King Herod who is not seeking to understand God’s revelation but seeks to control and usurp it. He does not worship God but rather has become God’s adversary.
The changing condition of faith in our society is a reality many theologians and sociologists are becoming increasingly aware of. In his new book entitled Transcending All Understanding; the Meaning of Christian Faith Today Cardinal Walter Casper, a member of the papal International Theological Commission, notes that most people in the Western world do not have a clear understanding between faith and belief which in turn is at the heart of what many sociologists are calling a crisis in faith. For many in Western cultures, faith and belief are the same, however, for the Christian, it is not. If a Christian confesses: “ I believe”, he does not simply intend to say by this that God exists. Even the devil believes in God. When the Christian says he/she believes, he/she is not just making an affirmation of a proposition, but a description of a relationship with God and the community of believers. In other words, a Christian does not believe to have the right information but to have the right relationship with God and all that God has created.
Today, many Catholics are not moved by their faith because they think that religion is about information rather than an invitation to live life in a new way. To affirm that God said or revealed something, for many in our social context, is to imply an intolerance to someone else’s understanding of truth. Therefore, it is better not to affirm or believe in anything making atheism and unbelief appear more devout and open to others. To be clear about your faith is looked upon as being “closed minded” or even “ignorant.”
The Gospel places before us two responses to Christ’s’ Incarnation. One response is of devotion and an outpouring of oneself in worship, offering gifts of great value, and allowing the experience to enlighten every aspect of your life. The other is to be threatened by it since faith in what God has revealed demands a change in the way we live our lives. As Cardinal Casper wrote, “How can we make understandable the fact that believing is beautiful, that faith is a great gift to be passed on, and that it is the salvation of mankind?”
Very Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, Rector