Epiphany of the Lord
- If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, then light shall rise for you in the darkness (Is. 58:10)
Those I would rather not be identified with—but whom I could also easily become—did not at all consider themselves blind (cf. Jn. 9). Rather, they perceived themselves to be more enlightened than most people and ought not to be lectured, for sure, by someone who was totally born in sin. Agreeing with them, sort of, Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
My prideful claim too that I see and that, as a follower of the new Moses, I do not take instruction from anybody else makes me without remedy with respect to learning and being taught. Content with myself and very sure of my knowledge, I am unwilling to leave my shell and continue to maintain the same old limited outlook, confining my views and plans to a fixed circumference within which I am enclosed (cf. St. Vincent de Paul’s December 6, 1658 conference to missionaries). Thus year after year, if I may make my own an expression used by St. Elizabeth Seton, with my thousand graces, multiplied resolutions, and fair promises, I run around in a circle of misery and imperfections.
And my tragedy, of course, is that I do not realize that I am just running around in circles, so thick is the darkness covering me. But if the invisibility of the star in Jerusalem is any indication, I should take note that self-absorption, self-focus and conviction of one’s self-importance in the manner of Herod and of his priestly and scribal sycophants make for one becoming impervious to light. The availability of a pool of experts in matters of Scriptures, or one’s own expertise itself, does not guarantee that one will see the light.
The light, it should become clear to me, is reserved for the humble who recognize their utter poverty and blindness or for those, like Saul, who must be blinded by the light first so they could later allow themselves to be led by it. The light becomes manifest to those, like the pagan Magi, who go out of themselves, of their familiar territories and ways, in order to give homage to someone other and greater than themselves, notwithstanding his littleness, and to give to him of themselves, of their time, talent and treasure.
In other words, the light, and therefore the remedy—as clearly illustrated too by St. Vincent’s own enlightenment and healing—will come to me when, confessing my spiritual blindness and darkness, I go out of myself and reach out to someone whose poverty and littleness makes him an unlikely embodiment of genuine royalty and greatness. I must be careful because even those who eat his body and drink his blood may have trouble discerning him in those who are usually excluded yet are nonetheless coheirs, members of his body, and copartners in the promise of the gospel. And one thing, for sure, that I ought to remember always is this: he will be fully and definitively revealed as the glorious Son of Man and king when, sitting upon his glorious throne, he assembles all nations before him to separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Then will it finally become manifest as well whom shall I have really identified with.