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You shall be radiant

by davesandel on January 6th, 2019

This is the last of this year’s Advent, Christmas and Epiphany devotions.  Thank you for sharing them with me.  God bless the coming weeks of what the Catholic Church calls “ordinary time.”  I hope to begin sharing devotions again with you the day before Ash Wednesday, on the day called Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, which in 2019 is Tuesday, March 5.

You shall be radiant

Epiphany Sunday, January 6, 2019

You shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD. – From Isaiah 60

O, what a day that day will be. O, what a party we will have. Can you stand it? Can you barely wait? At last no pain, and all our faces rest in joy. There will be peace in the valleys and peace on the mountaintops. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Gold and frankincense! Camels bear the gifts, camels proclaim the praises. The whole creation no longer groans in childbirth (Romans 8); the child has been born! God is alive and magi are afoot.

But wait. They bring three gifts, not two. Along with gold and expensive incense, they bring myrrh. Why this strange addition?

Frankincense and myrrh both smell exquisite in perfumes, incense, and ointments. Modern essential oils incorporate them both. But myrrh also formed an essential part of the embalming fluid of biblical times. The magi brought gifts for the present moment, and also a gift for the future. Myrrh symbolized death. Jesus’ life was already marked.

Mary took note. A bit later in the temple, Simeon cried out with joy, “Lord, now let my servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For my eyes have seen thy salvation!” Nunc dimittus. And then he spoke to Mary, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Mary looked at Jesus, looked at Joseph, and nodded her head. They took Jesus and left the temple. Thus began this boy’s childhood, thus began the holy family, thus began the salvation Simeon saw so clearly. God is alive and magic is afoot.

The liturgical calendar moves through Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, and then through Lent, Easter and Pentecost. These seasons mark the Lord’s experience and ours: anticipation, incarnation, revelation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. And in between comes what the church has always called “ordinary time.”

What will I do with my “ordinary time?” We are created for worship, we are made to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. He prepares a table for us, and invites us to eat.

What else would I do, but party with Jesus? Every chance I get.

I am learning, ever so slowly to be sure, to work around my prayer instead of pray around my work.

O, Lord, bless my soul. You are radiant, and so shall we be. You are holy, and so shall we be. You live at the right hand of the Father, and so shall we. O, Lord, bless my soul!

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