Since joining the church I discovered something about Christmas that had, up until then been unknown to me. The Christmas season doesn’t end on Christmas Day, but begins. The twelve days of Christmas aren’t the twelve days preceding December the twenty-fifth, but the twelve days after. Christmas Day is a beginning, not just of the season of Christmas, but of a way of thinking, of letting us move forward in our journeys, becoming more in relationship with Jesus than we had been previously.
In my parish, and in many parishes across the world, there is a visual documentation of this journey, from the Birth of Christ through His Baptism: the travel of the three kings from one side of the altar to the other, on their way to meet the Christ child, awaiting them in the manger.
We go through a similar journey ourselves; from Christ’s Nativity to His Crucifixion and Resurrection, the journey from his life to his death, and to his life again, a never ending circle that continues through time.
We try to put ourselves in Jesus’ shoes, walking through his childhood in a quick one-two-three and then move suddenly into the Acts of the Apostles to see what his disciples did after his ministry, death, and resurrection. Were they able to put aside their fears, their doubts, the uncertainness about their own personal futures to follow his example? Are we? The Acts show us what the disciples did in those days after, and give us examples of how we can go ahead sharing the Word in our world, and being examples ourselves. They give us a path to emulate, reaching across and around the globe, introducing Jesus to the people and making him accessible. We still do this today.
Today is Epiphany, a word that by itself has several meanings, all of which are relevant. We see with new eyes. We come to the realization. We indulge in our thoughts and find our way with that one seed, that one kernal, that one thing that moves us forward in whatever we do, and hopefully in all of these journeys we carry Jesus with us, as He carries us; with concern, with care, with hope, and with love.
In one week, Jesus will be baptized, like I was – as an adult. It is something I can relate to. When the priest asks if we remember our baptisms, most in the pews will shake their heads and laugh, but I, and a few others, can raise our hands and declare, yes, I remember my baptism. It was one of the greatest days in my life. It was the one time, literally, the only time where I did something without second thoughts. When asked if I was nervous, I readily and confidently stated, Not at all. And I meant it.
In one week, we return to ordinary time for a scant amount of weeks until Lent begins another journey. From now until then, we can set out to learn more about our relationship with Jesus and try to put ourselves into his shoes. We can never fill them, but we can muddle along and do our best. That is all any of us can do.