Tuesday after Epiphany, Saint John Neumann, Bishop

1John 4: 7-10 tells us we should “love one another, because love is from God.” He seems to be saying that we should love in order to be like God — but to be more than just “like” him. John keeps identifying sharing in God’s life (the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”) with the experience of being united in being with God within us, loving both us and others from within our very existence.

He continues: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Loving, being and knowing. In loving we experience our new being or new identity as reborn, having “become Christ” by dying in Christ and rising with him in Baptism. It is all the same interlocking mystery of mystical knowledge of ourselves and of God through the mystical experience of letting God express his love to others in and through us. John says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” The corollary is, “Whoever loves does know God, because God is love.”

How do we know God’s love? By living it: “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.” The love that John calls an experience of knowing God is not just human love, affection for others or benevolence toward them. It is the experience of loving others in union with God loving them from within ourselves and letting us share in his own act of loving.

When the presider says, in the Greeting at Mass, “May... the love of God... be with you, ” the liturgy is inviting us to recall and resonate with the mystical experience we have had of “God’s love... poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” and of God within us giving that love to others.1

John goes on to tell us that our own act of loving God depends on our prior (or simultaneous) experience of being loved by God. “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us.”

If we have no experience of being loved, we lack assurance of our value, of community and companionship, of protection and help in need. So we “fend for ourselves” and fight for ourselves. Survival is our priority. Being loved frees us to care (affectively and effectively) for others. Being loved by God frees us to love without bounds.

God “sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” That is radical, total assurance of our value, safety and acceptance. But we must assimilate the mystery of this self-expression of God.

Two symbols will help us absorb it: the cross, and image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Make both visible at home.

Mark 6: 34-44 continues to show us God’s love revealed in Jesus. He had “compassion” for the crowds and “began to teach them many things.” Then he fed them, in a preview of Eucharist. In every Mass he teaches us through his word and feeds us with his Body and Blood. The love we experience at Mass should empower us to love others as he is loving us.

If we will only pay attention at Mass, and participate “fully, actively and consciously,” we will absorb being loved and learn to be loving. Then we will bring the Responsorial (Psalm 72) to fulfillment: “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Initiative: Absorb being loved. Use the crucifix and picture of the Sacred Heart.

View Today's Readings Here

1 Romans 5:5.

The Most Holy Name of Jesus

All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God (Psalm 98)

1John 2:29 to 3:6 tells us that the “world,” meaning those not enlightened by faith, “does not recognize us.” As what? As “children of God.” But John insists, “That is what we are.”

Do we recognize this ourselves? Do we really see ourselves, accept ourselves, value ourselves and rejoice in ourselves as “God’s children”? If we do, what difference should it make in our lives?

When faith is truly alive, it fills us with a new and special hope. We live with the expectation and confidence that when Jesus brings us into the vision of God, “we shall be like him, for we will see him as he is.”

This faith in our own identity, and this hope in what we actually will be, encourages us to strive for “the perfection of love,” which Vatican II holds up to us as the goal of every authentic Christian lifestyle:

Every Catholic must therefore aim at Christian perfection (cf James 1:4; Romans 12:1-2) and… do their part so that the Church... may daily be more purified and renewed...

Thus it is evident to everyone that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity. 1

If we keep aware that we have “become Christ,” that we are children of the Father “in the Son,” and that we will eventually be perfectly “like him,” it will encourage us to keep trying! “All who have this hope based on him keep themselves pure, as he is pure.”

John 1: 29-34 tells us that John the Baptizer himself did not recognize Jesus for what he was until he “saw the Spirit descend [and] rest on him.” To really “know Jesus,” it is not enough to have grown up with him, or grown up in the faith that declares what he is. We have to be enlightened interiorly by the Holy Spirit to appreciate his mystery as the Savior who can actually save our lives on this earth from all that diminishes them (which may be different from what we think!)

To really know Jesus we have to interact with him in human ways that are made divine by the “co-action” in us of the Holy Spirit. We have to pray with our minds, reflecting on what Scripture says of him. And with our wills, putting our faith into action, (which is where we realize what our faith actually is). If we do this, we will “see the saving power of God.

Initiative: If you want to know Jesus, know yourself as God’s own daughter or son. Act as Jesus in everything you do. Say the WIT prayer.

1 Decree on Ecumenism no. 4; The Church, no. 40.

View Today's Readings Here

The Feast of the Epiphany

Awareness of the Light

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you. (Responsorial: Psalm 72)


What experience have you had of darkness? Did you recognize it as darkness at the time? Have you ever been in a place where no one showed any awareness of God? How did you feel?


What is more common than the light of day? We live and work by it, taking sunlight for granted. But the truth is, sunlight does not belong to our world. The light we have most need of to live on this earth does not come from this earth. It comes from the sun, ninety million miles outside of our orbit. Without light from “outer space” there would simply be no daylight. Or moonlight. Or starlight. We would live mostly in the dark.

Perhaps God guided the Magi by a star to make the point that no one comes to Christ except by following a light that is not of this world.

Not even of this universe. Nor any created light. But light from God alone.

We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that we may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.1

We need to keep ourselves aware of this. Only then will the light within us shine out to give light to the world. Then Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

In the Alternate Opening Prayer we ask God to “draw us beyond the limits which this world imposes, to the life where your Spirit makes all life complete.” With the light of this created universe we can only act within “the limits which this world imposes.” To arrive at “the life where Christ’s Spirit makes all life complete,” we need to keep repeating, “Star of wonder, star of might, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light.”

Facts and Promise

Isaiah 60: 1-6 is an invitation based on a proclamation: “Rise up in splendor! Arise, shine! For your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines upon you!”

Without the proclamation, the invitation would have no power. Its impelling force is based on two facts and a promise.

The first fact should be obvious, although its reality is misunderstood by many: “See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples.” Everyone grants there is darkness and clouded vision on earth, but many assume the darkness is just poor judgment, and that the clouds obscure only what unbiased minds should be able to see. And they are right—within “the limits which this world imposes.” What they don’t see is that every human culture, while better or worse, if not corrected and supplemented by a light that is not of this world, is “darkness.”

The “thick clouds that cover the peoples” are the assumptions, common in the defectively educated, that religion is irrelevant and revelation non-existent. They ignore the invitation because the second fact—“your light has come”—is not evident to them. The truth is, “Upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.” But they are blind to it. Like those blinded by the lights of the city, they cannot see the stars.

The promise is addressed to believers: “Nations shall walk by your light.... Your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters....” Family members who have turned away from the Church will return. Even cultures will be converted and nations walk in justice and peace.

If what? If we “Rise up in splendor and shine!” The light that is within us must shine out. It wasn’t given to be covered by a basket. We are meant and sent to be stars: to guide the world to Christ by a light given to us that is not of this world. But we have to be aware of it.

The Epiphany

Matthew 2: 1-12 tells us the story of the Magi. Presumably, they were “pagan” stargazers who sought to know God by studying the rhythm of the universe. In the stars, whose fire was considered a “pure element,” they looked for the God of pure Truth, pure Goodness, pure Being and Life.

So God invited them through a star, a symbol from their own religion. But after they had seen what he called them to see, they “went back to their own country by another route.” They were changed men, walking a different path.

And the light was shining within them. They had become stars. They were sent home to let the new light that was in them shine out as a revelation of God. They—they themselves—were now the Light of the world. Isaiah had said to believers, “Nations shall walk by your light....” Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” 2

In Jesus, “the true light, which enlightens everyone,” came into the world. “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.”

In him was life, and the life was the light of all people... [Yet] his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.

Children of the Father, sons and daughters “in the Son.” And, because we are “in him” and he in us, we are the Light of the world.

If only, and only if, we let our light shine.

The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son....

Now, however, it is we, the believers, who are the “only sons and daughters of the Father” on earth. Unless his glory is “made flesh” in us it will not be seen in our world. In us “the light shines in the darkness.” In Jesus, “the darkness did not overcome it.” If in our time, in our country and culture, professional environment, family and social life, “darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples,” it means we are failing to shine. 3

But if we “let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven,” the promise will be fulfilled: Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.


In Ephesians 3: 2-6 it is evident that Paul was aware of who he was, of his call and his mission, and of God’s empowering grace:

I, Paul, am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles....[because] of the ministry God gave me... the mystery... made known to me by revelation...that in Christ Jesus the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise through the preaching of the gospel..

The last words say it: everything comes about and depends on “the preaching of the Gospel.” Before it can be seen, the light has to shine. “Preaching” the Good News means letting the glory of God’s light in us shine out in all we are, say and do. It is we who are the Epiphany. We are the “manifestation of his glory” now, even while we still “wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” We, letting the light of God shine out in us, are the fact that makes the promise credible. We are the “preview of the Parousia.” If people don’t see the preview, it is not likely they will put much stock in the movie. 4

The first thing we have to do, however, is cultivate awareness. How can we make the life of God in us visible if we are not aware we have it? How can we let the truth we know by God’s light appear in our words and actions if we are not conscious of what it is, not aware of what we know? How can we show the “fruit of the Spirit” in our comportment—love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness and self-control—if we are not aware of how much we ourselves are loved, what reason we have for joy, how Jesus has given us peace? The first phase of evangelization is awareness. 5


Do I appreciate more how important it is to be aware of the light and life in me?


Form the habit of deliberately trying to express divine truth, life, love.

View Today's Readings Here

1 1Peter 2:9. 2 Matthew 5:14-16.

3 Read John 1:1-18. 4 Titus 2:13. 5 Galatians 5:22.

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