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Sunday Gospels

Through the lens of manifestations

The Baptism of Jesus is like a bridge. It is the last day of Christmas and also the preparation for Jesus to set out on his mission.

One of the things that early Christians were very excited about were the three manifestations of Jesus. His first calling of the Gentiles at Epiphany, his baptism in the Jordan, and his first miracle at Cana. There are many sermons and hymns which mention these three manifestations. The reason that they are so important is that they show us who Jesus is. What did the Wise men find in Bethlehem? A helpless weak baby. He didn’t appear to have any power, any influence, any riches. And yet his power to attract followers comes from his very weakness. He is small and approachable. His lack of influence has influenced many to abandon the ways of the world and to live a life of service. His poverty has enriched many. At the River Jordan (Lk 3:15-16, 21-22), what do we see? Our God humbling himself to be counted as one of us. He will stop nothing in order to save us. Finally, at the wedding feast (Jn 2:1-11), what can we learn? Jesus wants to do miracles in your life. He wants to give you abundance and joy.

Of course, Jesus continued (and continues) to manifest himself to the world. According to Saint Luke (Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21), at the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus told the people that the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in their presence. The spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus to bring glad tidings to us the poor, to bring us liberty, sight, freedom.

When we hear about these gifts perhaps we are initially pleased. The people were initially pleased with the gifts but they rejected the giver. (Lk 4:21-30) They had no gifts to give him only hatred.

Many of us have just finished giving each other gifts. But what did you give to Jesus? Did you forget him? Maybe you couldn’t figure out what he would like. Perhaps you are all out of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I’m not sure there those are the gifts that Jesus wants from you. For gold, I think he would be pleased if you treated others with kindness and respect. For incense, you could truly pray from your heart instead of just saying words. And for myrrh, you could give him your trials, your sorrows and even, your sins.