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January 5, 2014

One night while I was working on bulletin a man called my cell and asked for $300 saying he, his wife and two young children had been broke and waiting for the next cheque to come. I replied that the parish could not give out money but I would help his family with food or diapers or milk or any necessity for the next two weeks; but he insisted he just needed cash and I refused to give it. Guess what he said? “Back to the China.” “I’m not from China,” I answered. “Then back to the East,” he hung up.

I put the cell phone back in my pocket and pondered with a heavy heart for a while, “What am I doing wrong here?” Then a light came to my mind, “The Wise Men came from the East (Mt 2: 2).” The joy returned to me, “There are still some things good from the East!”

I will present to you three ideas on the feast of Epiphany. First, most people think that the Wise Men saw a bright star in the Eastern sky and began to follow it, the star guided them unfailingly, first to Jerusalem, where it temporarily disappeared, and then to Bethlehem where they found the Child Jesus. But if we read the Gospel account carefully we will see that this was not the case. They saw the star at its "rising." The Gospel says nothing about the star guiding them. Rather, it was no more than a sign that something unusual had happened, that someone special had been born. They had travelled in darkness for a long time from their country to Bethlehem.

Secondly, when the Wise Men found Christ, they opened their treasures, offering him gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then, having worshipped him, they returned to their own country by another road. Their life had changed totally.

Lastly the Feast of Epiphany is a revolutionary one. At the Epiphany, Christ was revealed as the Saviour, not of a few people or a select group, but of all people. His star shines for all. His light is the true light that enlightens all people whose representatives are the Wise Men. In this sense, the Wise Men are our ancestors in faith. Like them we come from different parts of the world. Like them we are filled with delight and worship him in the Eucharist. It is our response to his love and revelation. It is part of our journey in faith like the journey of the Wise Men. We bring to the altar the bread and wine, just as the Wise Men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. Bread and wine symbolize our life, work, and joy. And the Lord Jesus will transform them into his own Body and Blood so that they will become the perfect sacrifice offered to God our loving Father.

Another year is history! Looking back, maybe many of us should thank the Lord that it was a good year. Some of us had personal difficulties: flood, death in the family, sickness, jobless, marriage problem, ongoing struggles in individual and family life, etc. But beyond all these, our lives have been blessed in many ways.

In our parish life, I think we have had a good year. I have begun my fourth year here in October. Can you believe that? Time flies! At first I didn’t think I could survive 6 months and now 3 years have gone. The parish continues to grow steadily in terms of numbers, participation, finance, communication and education. I think each member has a hand in this growth. A comment one day from an Anglican priest makes me proud: “You have so many committed people in your parish.” I totally agree with this comment.

I’d like to thank all of you especially those who participated in decorating the church, the cribs, children’s Mass, in the choirs and in all other ministries of the parish… Without you the celebrations wouldn’t be as beautiful. I also thank all the people who attended Christmas Masses, it meant a lot to our community, and we wish to have them come around the whole year. I thank you for sharing your time, your life and your treasures to the poor, and to the victims of wars and disasters everywhere in the world. Thank you for your contributions to the debt reduction and other diocesan funds.

Looking ahead in 2014, I’d like to have more people participate in our worship and in other activities of the parish. We continue to work for the present and future of the church community. May the abundant love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph be your blessing in this New Year.