Saturday, January 2, 2021

House Blessings for the New Year: A Reflection on the Mass Readings for Epiphany Sunday

Wally and I were invited to share a reflection at our parish blog on the Mass readings for Epiphany Sunday:

On Epiphany, we celebrate the magi's visit to Jesus. This week's Gospel reading shares two very different responses to Jesus' birth:

King Herod is "greatly troubled" (Matthew 2:3). He is so upset at the announcement of this newborn king that he conspires to kill Jesus.

The magi are "overjoyed" (Matthew 2:10). They travel a long distance, then prostrate in worship before the Child Jesus.

Others mentioned in the story—the chief priests, scribes, Mary—aren't described with explicit emotions. Perhaps they felt concern, hope, fear, uncertainty, or curiosity.

How are you feeling this Christmas season? Troubled? Joyful? Uncertain?

In the spirit of Epiphany, let's open our hearts and homes to Jesus in this coming year. There's an ancient tradition of house blessings on Epiphany. Many Catholic websites offer creative suggestions, such as chalking the year and C+M+B (Christus Mansionem Benedicat: "Christ, bless this house") on doorposts. The USCCB also offers a simple and brief liturgy for Epiphany house blessings that concludes with this prayer:

Lord God of heaven and earth,
you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation
by the guidance of a star.
Bless this house
and all who inhabit it.
Fill us with the light of Christ,
that our concern for others may reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.