by Father James Rodriguez
In timeless and typically beautiful language, the Gospel of St. John tells us that “in the beginning was the Word.” The book of Genesis speaks to us of the void in which the Word existed, how before God gave shape or form to the world, there was “darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters.”
He speaks the Word, and light pierces the empty infinity. Creation was born, and on the seventh day, God rested, basking in its goodness.
We know the tragic next part of the story: The serpent speaks, curiosity is piqued, and the fruit is torn off of the tree without permission. Creation, so good and beautiful, is now tainted by our mistrust of God, but this would not last forever.
Our God promised liberation, a light in this new darkness, a Word that would pierce our self-inflicted deafness; the void of our choosing would be empty no more — all on one future, mysterious and silent night.
Isaiah foresees that night in today’s first reading: “Darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.”
Darkness wouldn’t have the final word in God’s restored creation. Born of a virgin, as Isaiah also saw, this radiance would reach far and wide, illuminating the chosen people no longer bound to a single nation but stretching across the planet.
We who would choose to be chosen, sharing the same freedom that our first parents abused, would not only enjoy this light, but it would cause our hearts to “throb and overflow.”
The psalm echoes the theme, looking forward with longing to this day of peace. Our modern world, so advanced and savvy, continues to moan and ache for this day, because wealth and technology can never satisfy the heart.
The day of the Lord is marked by a profound peace that will come only when “every nation on earth will adore you.” He alone is the fruit now willingly offered to us. Only He can fill the void in our hearts and restore us to the divine friendship for which we were made.
St. Paul writes to the Ephesians and to us, Gentiles who have received the light first given to “his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,” and then passed on like a torch in the divine relay of Christian evangelization.
The apostle recognized the privilege that we too often take for granted, that we have been given the light that all people long to see.
It is a sad reality that the promise of Isaiah continues to go unrealized, not because of a lack of initiative on God’s part, but because we stifle His Spirit through our ignorance and fear. We forget that the Gospel is both a gift and a responsibility.
Each Christian is entrusted with this light, to be handed on to future generations as a living beam continuing to cut through the cosmos, leaving precious renewal in its glorious wake.
Like the magi, we, too, can see through the hollow promises of the kings of the present age. We are to do as Herod said, “Go and search diligently for the child,” but after finding Him, “depart by another way,” utterly changed by the encounter.
No one reflected the light like Mary. Like a monstrance, she held the Lord for us to see, prostrate in surrender and devotion. We see in her holy hands the author of all holiness, and the only fitting response is love.
This love has been made manifest in the church’s innumerable initiatives throughout history as mere reflections of our greatest light, the Holy Eucharist. May we ever be enlightened by Him, fed at the manger where He is born every day to shatter our darkness with love’s pure light.
Readings for the Epiphany of the Lord
Isaiah 60: 1-6
Psalm 72: 1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Ephesians 3: 2-3A, 5-6
Matthew 2: 1-12
Father Rodriguez is the administrator of St. Rose of Lima in Rockaway Beach.