My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Peace of the Lord be with you.
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, or what is commonly called the Feast of the Three Kings. This is the feast in which the church celebrates the manifestation of the Messiah to the entire world. Since the three kings come from different countries, tradition holds that they represent the people of every nation coming to pay homage to the Christ child, the Messiah. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus in the river Jordan and the last day of the Christmas season for the Catholic Church. In some parts of the world today is the day that gifts are exchanges in memory of the gifts that the Magi brought to the child Jesus.
Keeping all of this in mind, I would like to share with you a story that one of our parishioners sent me thru the email.
“People often think of The Twelve Days of Christmas as the days preceding the festival. Actually, Christmas is a season of the Christian Year that last for days beginning December 25th until January 6th – the Day of Epiphany – when the church celebrates the revelation of Christ as the light of the world and recalls the journey of the Magi.
“From 1558 until 1829, people in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. During this era, someone wrote `The Twelve Days of Christmas’ as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without risk of persecution. The song has two levels of interpretation: `the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the church.’
“Each element in the carol is a code word for a religious reality.
- The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christi.
- The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testament.
- Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
- The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
- The five gold rings recall the torah (Law) the first five books of the Old Testament.
- The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
- Seven swans a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- The eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes.
- Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Spirit (Gal.5).
- The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
- Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.
- Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the 12 points of belief in the Apostles Creed.
“There you have it, the hidden meaning of the `The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and the secret behind the song.”
As we close the Christmas season, we should work tirelessly to let the light of Christ shine thru us each day so that more people will come to know Him. That is our goal for the New Year – to be a bright light for Christ!
The Feast of the Epiphany underlines the unity of the Church which is made up of people from every nation, speaking many different languages, and coming from as many different cultures. Yet because of our Baptism, we are indeed one in the Body of Christ. Pope Francis spoke on this unity in his sermon at his daily Mass of November 29, 2013. He said that Christians today must bear witness to the God-given unity of the Church, because the world needs a model of God’s plan for peace and reconciliation for the whole human family. “When we affirm our faith,” Pope Francis said, “we affirm that the Church has one faith, one sacramental life, a single apostolic succession, a common hope. The definition is clear, but we must ask ourselves whether we really live by this creed.
“Am I one of those who “privatize” the Church for their own group, for their own country, for their own friends? “ When I hear about my brothers and sisters of faith who suffer, who are persecuted, does this really touch my heart? It is important to feel that we are part of the Church, part of the one family of God.”
“Gossip,” Pope Francis continued, “damages our Church, our parishes, our communities – our true riches are those which unite us, not those which divide.” And finally, the Pope reminded us that our unity is driven by the Holy Spirit, the “engine” of all harmony
It is my prayer that God will bless each of you in 2018 with much happiness and prosperity. May we work to bring about the unity and peace promised by God when the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds. This work begins in our families and in our parish. Then, when we as a parish have united ourselves around Jesus, we will be able to reach out to others.
I love you.