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Your light has come | Word Alive

Gabrielle Sinclair

Friday, December 31, 2021

Detail of The Adoration of the Magi by Matthias Stom (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Your light has come

A reflection for the Epiphany of the Lord, Year C

by Gabrielle Sinclair

Over the festive season, many people have created a tradition of watching, perhaps for the 100th time, the 2003 film Love Actually. The first reading for this weekend from Isaiah brought to mind for me those scenes from the airport arrivals gate at the beginning and end of the film. We see the excitement and anticipation bubbling over, rising up, "at this sight, you will grow radiant, your heart throbbing and full".
After two years of pandemic restrictions, estrangements, and separations from family and loved ones, there have been many scenes of restorations and reunions at airports, train stations, and front doors at the first available opportunity. This weekend in our text from Isaiah, we hear the prophetic voice foretelling our joy and the dawning brightness of the Incarnation as "the glory of the Lord is rising". Without becoming misty-eyed, I can't watch those airport scenes, fizzing up with emotion and filled with gratitude. I wonder, though, what was fizzing inside the Magi as they responded to the prophetic signs that propelled them into distant lands.
The celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord reminds me of visiting new parents a few days or weeks after the birth. For the most part, they have recovered from the actual arrival of their new bundle of joy and are just starting to wrap their heads around the all-encompassing expansion of love that has taken place in their world. It is this expansiveness that welcomes and invites us into the celebration of the Incarnation. Today's psalm is a celebration of inclusion, every nation, and in the hope of peace and justice for all. The refrain "every nation on earth will adore you" makes us wonder if we do, in fact, adore our God. Something adorable is often tiny and helpless, and we are drawn in because we want to provide our support and protection. We can undoubtedly adore the baby Jesus. But is our love expansive enough to adore our God, in humility rather than strength, that we may be the one who is supported and protected?
It is always refreshing to remember that the Magi draw everyone to the manager's side by representing all the non-Jewish people of the world, honouring Christ's coming for all nations, not just Israel but all of creation. Coming in strength and humility, these kings, royalty in their lands, did not just send a delegation to honour another foreign dignitary but bent their whole person to the task.
Their presence and humility ring out a challenge for us. Are we in the habit of sending delegations? Do we create space, take time, and focus on the most important people in our lives? Or do we put it off, waiting like Herod for more information, threatened by something we can't control?
The example of the Magi reminds us that participation is what expansive love looks like, to be present and engaged. Showing up for meaning, connection, and love is at the heart of the Incarnation. Christ showed up to be in relationship, not merely by a passing association but wholly human and divine among us; a new love was born. This, too, is what Pope Francis is trying to re-energise in our communities through the synodal process; it is an expression of our communion of expansive love through participation. We are being challenged to show up not with gold, frankincense, and myrrh but with the gift of our uniquely graced selves.
Returning then to the airport arrivals gate, perhaps we are getting a glimpse of scenes that show us the experience of adoration, that kind of love that might be new, or years in the making, but is expansive and bends with humility and strength. It is a tangible reflection of Christ's love. Maybe that is why it resonates with so many people as we sit misty-eyed at our screen, over and over, as our souls cry out, "arise, shine out, for your light has come".

The readings for the Epiphany of the Lord, Year C, are
Isaiah 60:1-6
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

Gabrielle Sinclair has worked in ministry roles for over 20 years, with parish, dioceses, and nationally with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and now in education. Currently, Gabrielle is an Associate Director, in the area of formation, with Good Samaritan Education in the Good Samaritan Benedictine tradition. Her love of music and background in television and theatre production never fail to provide a creative lens to life's ever-changing paths. Gabrielle's many blessings include living in rural New South Wales, her partner-in-crime and husband, Patrick, and their three young adult children, Baden, Niamh, and Fintan.

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