It is almost 11pm on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I have changed the cloth on the prayer altar at home from Gold to Green – Christmas is over. As I listen to my final Christmas music I am struck by something that happened on this feast.
At the Masses I assisted at this weekend I noticed the reactions on the faces of the congregation as they were ‘hit’ with Holy Water during the sprinkling rite; some look annoyed, others surprised, others embarrassed, and still others awkwardness; everyone had a reaction. I was surprised – not that they had reactions; but that I failed to appreciate what an epiphany is all about.
Now, this contact with Holy Water is not what is we usually think of as an epiphany, but it is, at least according to the dictionary: ‘a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something’. Being sprinkled with Holy Water is a revealing moment, a powerful remembrance of what God has done for us and how close He is to us. It is a moment of awakening.
If we truly allow God’s revealing moments to us to touch us, it should bring about in each of us those reactions I mentioned. The action of God in our lives is not a ‘hallmark card’ moment; it is an invasion within our well-built armor. These moments of awareness of God within our lives sheds light on our self-designed comfort nests that make us feel good about ourselves while shielding us from much needed spiritual growth. We tend to become the spiritual version of the Newton’s first law of motion: ‘An object at rest tends to stay in rest’. We are comfortable with the level of religion that we have achieved and to have that challenged is not something we desire.
Of course that ‘object’, in this case our souls, can not get anywhere if we are not moving. These moments of closeness with God, should make radical change within us. We should be aware of how far we are from our journey’s end and why; so we can make the profound change that these moments are pointing to. In a very real way this is what is meant by having to go through the cross to reach heaven. We can only attain eternity within God’s embrace if we allow him to show us our shortcomings and allow Him to convert our spiritual ‘bloatedness’ into energetic discipleship.
As I look back on this Christmas Season, a season of celebrating God’s revealing light, I pray that I can take these epiphanies and my initial reaction to them and embrace their challenge so that I can grow closer to God, who came to me; who keeps coming to me. Which brings me to the final reaction I noticed on those being sprinkled – they smiled!
For the last time this liturgical year – Merry Christmas!