Centering Thought: “We need to encounter the poor and learn how to share so that it becomes a way of life.” Pope Francis
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Feast of the Epiphany! This online retreat is offered with the hope that it will provide you with an opportunity to enter into a time of prayer, reflection and action during this season of Advent. The retreat has three parts:
- Presence: You are invited to enter into the retreat through silence or by song. This is a time of preparation to receive God’s word into your heart.
- Prayer: Following Saint John Baptist De La Salle’s Method of Interior Prayer reflect upon this week’s Sunday Gospel.
- Participation: How is the Holy Spirit calling me to enliven the reign of God in my life, my family, my community, and the world? God’s reign—one that is reflective of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and justice.
Light a candle as you pray “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.” or “Let me remember that I am in the holy presence of God.”
January 6 THE ADORATION OF THE KINGS (MTR)
96.1 First Point: We cannot sufficiently admire the faith of the holy Magi, for nothing was found in Israel, as Saint Bernard says, to match the faith shown by these admirable Gentiles. They behold a new, extraordinary star. At this sight they leave for a distant land to seek one whom they do not know, who is not known even in his own land. Enlightened by this star and even more so by the light of faith, they go to announce a new Sun of Justice in the place where he was born. They surprise everyone with the proclamation of this news. They are not surprised by it because they are enlightened by the true Light and because it is by faith alone, according to Saint Paul, that we make our way toward Jesus Christ. The star did not appear to them in vain, for this sight caused them to receive the grace of God, and it made this day a day of salvation for them3 because they showed themselves most faithful to the divine inspiration. Are we attentive to the inspirations we receive from God? Are we as quick to follow them as these holy Magi were in letting themselves be led by the star that guided them? Frequently the salvation and the happiness of a soul depend on this prompt fidelity to grace. God graciously spoke to Samuel because, three times in a row as soon as he heard God’s voice, he presented himself to listen to God. Saint Paul merited to be entirely converted because he was immediately faithful to the voice of Jesus Christ, who called him. You ought to do just as they did.
96.2 Second Point When the Magi entered Jerusalem and Herod’s palace, they asked, Where has the King of the Jews been born? What a question to ask in the palace of the prince! It is true, says Saint Augustine, that several kings had been born in Judea and that Herod, who was then on the throne, had several children. However, it was not to adore or to acknowledge as king any of these that the Magi had come, because it was for none of them that heaven had brought them. It is true, Saint Fulgentius says, that a short time earlier, a son had been born to Herod in his palace. They had placed him in a silver cradle, and all Judea paid him homage, but the Magi disdained him and did not even mention him in the king’s palace. What holy audacity in our Magi, to enter the capital and to make their way even to Herod’s throne! They feared nothing because the faith that inspired them and the grandeur of him whom they were seeking caused them to forget, even to scorn, all human considerations. They considered the king to whom they were speaking to be infinitely beneath the one announced to them by the star. We cannot admire too much how these Gentiles, brought up in the errors of paganism, had such a lively faith and how they were so faithful to follow its lights. Their faith was much increased and strengthened when Herod gathered all the princes of the priests and the scribes of the people and found out from them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, in Bethlehem. Thereupon he told the Magi that when they found this Child whom they were seeking, he too would go to adore him. But the Magi then left without concerning themselves any further about King Herod. So too must faith make you despise all that the world esteems.
96.3 Third Point The Magi left the city of Jerusalem and proceeded to the poor village of Bethlehem to find there the King whom they were seeking. They were led there by the star, which moved ahead of them until it reached the place where the Child was and stopped there. Then the Magi entered the stable and found a little Child wrapped in poor swaddling clothes in the company of his mother, Mary. At this sight, how could the Magi not fear to have been deceived? Are these the marks of a king? Asks Saint Bernard. Where is his palace, his throne, his court? The stable, the saint says, is his palace; the crib serves as his throne, and his court is the company of the Most Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph. This stable does not appear to the Magi as deserving of disdain. These poor swaddling clothes are not shocking in their eyes. They feel no disappointment at seeing a poor child being nursed by his mother. They prostrate themselves before him, says the Gospel. They honor him as their King and adore him as their God. Behold the faith that profoundly filled their spirit and caused them to respond in this way. Recognize Jesus beneath the poor rags of the children whom you have to instruct; adore him in them. Love poverty, and honor the poor, following the example of the Magi, for poverty ought to be dear to you, responsible as you are for the instruction of the poor. May faith lead you to do this with affection and zeal because these children are members of Jesus Christ. In this way this divine Savior will be pleased with you, and you will find him because he always loved the poor and poverty.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle: Method of Interior Prayer. The Sunday Gospel as reflected in the process of De La Salle’s Method of Interior Prayer. (DLS Method of Interior Prayer: Br. William Mann FSC)
Remember God’s Presence
Pause for a few minutes to quiet yourself and to remember that God is, even in this very moment, present to you.
- In all of creation, everything around you.
- In your very self, keeping you alive.
- In the midst of those with whom you are praying
- In the Eucharist and in the Word of God
- In you by God’s grace at work in your life.
- In the young and the poor.
Contemplate the Mystery of God’s love at work in the world.
Read today’s Gospel a few times slowly. What word or words especially catch your attention? Listen to what is being said; watch what happens; try to become part of the Mystery; lovingly contemplate Jesus.
- Reflect on the Mystery of God’s love at work in your own life.
- Does today’s Gospel have any relevance to your life?
- How do you try to share the message of this Gospel with those with whom you live and work? With those who have been entrusted to your care?
If you choose to allow this Scripture passage to come alive in you now, what would you have to change in your life? What are the obstacles to this change?
from the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
Resolve to be open to the Spirit working in and through you.
- Where is the Spirit drawing you to sacrifice yourself today that others might have a happier, fuller, holier and more love-filled life?
- Take a few minutes now to thank God for this time you have spent in prayer and to reoffer yourself, as far as you are able, to the accomplishment of God’s will…God’s plan.
- Pray: engaging in conversation with God. Jesus was in constant communication with the Father, so much so that he could state “the Father and I are one.” And “I am here to do the will of my Father.” How did he know his Father’s will-through prayer. The gift of his powerful example invites us into a similar relationship with Our Father.
- Listen: Listen in prayer, listen in seeing the beauty of nature, listen in the words of love, guidance, correction and wisdom of others, listen to Scripture, and listen in the expressions of ritual and sacrament.
- Act: Live an authentic life-where words match actions based on biblical expressions of mercy and love.
- Trust: Act in faith-believe in your discernment. In your prayer ask for Jesus to guide you in the way you are being called by the Creator in your life then risk following that path!