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Epiphany readings and the Ad Gentes people

22/01/2011: General House

Dear Ad Gentes people: greetings from Rome. Today, 6th January, the feast of the Holy Kings, as I learned from my childhood, and as we still today celebrate in my village, I could not miss thinking of you. The Holy Kings, in fact, in my mind are always associated with God’s mission, with the AD GENTES mission. They come from far and they have a good, very good evangelizer: God himself through the bright star. In the Bible, the stars sometimes fulfill the work of the angels (cf., Rev. 1, 16), and to receive a message from the angels is to receive it from God himself (cf., the Annunciation). Therefore God himself, through his Son (we are still celebrating his coming!) becomes the first missionary AD GENTES and this implies that he wants to reveal himself as far as the ends of the earth. In our days we are called to be the stars shining out to the nations; so that all people may see and know the mystery of God of which Paul speaks to us in the second reading of today (cf., Eph 3, 2-3a.5-6).Concretely, in the Marist world today, you are called to be this shining star for those to whom you are called to be an evangelizer, through the different projects coming up in the various plans of each one of your communities or countries. Through prayer and the daily hearing of God’s word we are enlightened by His word; being enlightened we become light, by His grace (at the end, it is always His grace which draws us to Him, as the star drew the Magi to the crib). And the function of the light is to illuminate and to warm. Using the expression of Isaiah, very clearly we are called to be light of the nations, an expression that does not come from the first reading of today (cf. Is 60, 1-6), but was coined by Isaiah as well (cf., Is 42, 6; Is 49, 6). However the first reading of today, in the very first verse, says the same thing and it is a strong invitation: “Stand up, and become light, because the light comes up to you” (Is 60, 1). This invitation, perhaps, is the best for any missionary, and in a special way, for any AD GENTES missionary. Maybe in your meditation today you felt it, as if the Lord was sending it to you personally. There where you are, you have received the light from the Lord, you become light, sharing in Jesus’ light. And what is the result: the first reading of today spells it out very clearly: the nations (the people close to you!) will walk in the light of the Lord. There you have, through the symbol of the light, your entire mission, my dear people of the VII AD Gentes Group: • To allow ourselves to be enlightened by the Lord;• Enlightened by the Lord we become light; we follow Jesus who is light (cf., Jo 8, 12)• Being light, we are not light for ourselves, but rather for others (for the nations, to use the biblical expression. Matthew would tell us the same thing in very clear terms: you are the light of the world: Mt 5, 14) This third point refers also to the first reading of today, and I referred to it just above. Perhaps you realize that you are at the heart of the mission of the Church and of the Congregation: maybe it will come into the light of the Lord because of your action, may- be just because of your presence, humble presence, but showing always the radiance of the light of the Lord, dwelling and lasting in you.I want to share with you this reflection today on the feast of the Holy Kings. To encourage you, and to tell you how much God who has called you to this beautiful but demanding mission loves you and somehow relies on you for the mission, Marist mission in Asia. Go ahead and let us consolidate the work that we started years ago. You know better than I the need to consolidate our mission in Asia. Liturgically we call the feast of the Holy Kings, “the Epiphany” : the revelation of the Lord to the nations. It is what you are doing. In the Eastern Church, this feast is known as the feast of the “aghia photo” (the holy light). May we be light and may we be holy people, so that the light we shine around us is the “holy light”, the divine light, the light coming from God, God himself, in fact; not our light, surely. Through the “aghia photo” of the Eastern Christians we reach through different ways the teaching of Isaiah: to be light for the nations: what for? Isaiah gives us also the answer: “so that my salvation may be present to the ends of the earth” (Is 49, 6).The salvation of the “Holy One” of Israel. In the end, the “feast of the light” (Revelation, epiphany) is also a call to become a saint: in shining God’s “Sharing holy light”, we reveal also his holiness. Our rich Marist tradition is an echo of this cry of Isaiah: “to become a Marist is to undertake all means to become a saint”. The celebration of this feast of the “holy light” is therefore for us a challenge to be really missionaries according to God’s heart. A heart which is a merciful heart; a heart which takes us away from the darkness; a heart which leads us into His admirable light. Enjoy your celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord. Develop in yourselves a real missionary spirituality. Be a spiritual missionary.With prayers and affection.Your brother. Teófilo

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