This is the God who Loves

Prayer for our New Auxiliary Bishops as They Prepare for Episcopal Ordination  

Lent Prepares Us To Celebrate God’s Love and Mercy

Trusting in God in Difficult Times

Jesus Walks With Us In Seasons Of Suffering

The Power of Words

Msgr. Joseph Prior

(Readings of the Holy Mass – The Epiphany of the Lord)

The man wore a T-shirt and a baseball cap as he descended the staircase. He was headed down to the platform at one of the Metro stations in Washington D.C. He arrived just as rush-hour was starting. He placed the case he was carrying on the floor, opened it and retrieved a violin. He started playing, offering a free concert for about forty-five minutes. Into the busy-ness, the noise, and the chaos of the crowded subway station, this man offered beauty, calm and peace. People were coming and going. A few placed coins down at his feet. One woman stopped to listen. She was captivated by the music and did not leave until he finished.

The story has been retold many times; you may have heard it before. It happened in 2007. The musician was a world-renowned violinist. The story first told by a Washington Post reporter earned him a Pulitzer Prize.

The hectic scene of a rush-hour subway station, pre-COVID, is an apt symbol for the busyness of many lives today. It can be hectic and quick-paced. Sometimes it may be exciting. Other times exhausting. Sometimes it may be stimulating or other times it may be draining.

All aspects of life are influenced by the pace and scope of activity and responsibility. Family life for example is stretched that sometimes it seems to its limits by the amount of activity that each person in the family has. So much activity, so little time to spend with each other. The activities, jobs, or responsibilities may be good in and of themselves but if we are not alert they can replace the very good we seek to enhance by them. They can start to cause restlessness, anxiety even anger. They become a noise that breaks the stillness of our peace.

A few years back we had an extended power-outage in my neighborhood that lasted a number of days. Despite the inconvenience and hardship that such a situation brings, a number of families told me how glad they were to have the time to be with each other and to spend time together as they adjusted to limited electricity.

Today we celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord. “Epiphany” means manifestation. He is “made known” today. In this regard, the celebration is much related to Christmas.

On Christmas, we recalled the shepherds arriving at the stable in Bethlehem. The shepherds represent the anawim of Israel. Those “lowly” (in the sense of humble or poor; not in the sense of “less-than”) who await the Lord’s goodness. The magi, of whom we hear in today’s gospel, represent the non-Jewish peoples, the Gentiles. Jesus comes to bring salvation and life to all peoples, Jew and Gentile alike so the Epiphany somewhat mirrors our celebration of the Nativity.

The gospel stories of Jesus’ birth have another thing in common. Not too many people recognized His birth. Recall Joseph bringing expecting Mary to Bethlehem to find there was “no room in the inn.” So, they stay in the manger.

After Jesus is born, the shepherds, after being told by an angel, come to visit. The magi arrive following the star.

Where was everyone else? What was going on? Bethlehem was an active city. Certainly, with the census going on there were a lot of visitors in town. It wasn’t like Jesus was born in a desert. People were going about with their lives, their business, their cares and their worries. The one who can provide peace is right there in their midst but they did not see him.

The busyness of life is nothing new. Each age has its own way of generating busyness. A lot of times that busyness generates noise. It can be chaotic. We can sometimes get caught up in that scene and are not even aware. We can sometimes be like the hoards who walked by the world-renowned musician in the subway station missing the beauty of his music.

Sometimes we can be like crowds in Bethlehem who missed the birth of the Messiah. Emmanuel is still with us.

He is here. He is among us. He invites us to His peace. His offer is still stands. The challenge is to find him, now.


Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Penndel, and a former professor of Sacred Scripture and rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

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