Our Own Epiphanies: A reflection by Ann Marie Harootunian

Awaiting Expectations: Remember when you were little, and you were wishing for something you really wanted? The anticipation and expectation were so real, and it seemed, prolonged. Remember when you got what you wished for? I was about 8 or 9 years old and wished for a “walking doll” for Christmas. It had straight legs that could walk… I would have to walk it, one foot and leg forward then the other foot and leg forward. I wished and wished Santa would bring it to me. On Christmas morning, I flew downstairs and ran to my one gift and opened it, and there she was, my walking doll! What joy I felt to finally get it!

I remember some other times growing up that I wanted something  very much and when I got it, that feeling of happiness washed over me.  I would give hugs and big kisses to my parents for getting me what I wished for. 

Know when I felt that happiness again? When I received my First Holy Communion. I remember that day very well. The nuns prepared us to receive Jesus into our hearts. I was thrilled to finally receive Holy Communion like the rest of my family, to be a part of the Church in a “grown up” way, and  to finally receive Jesus into my heart after waiting so long to have Him actually within me.

This feeling of happiness and joy happened to me again recently when I least expected it. When we were allowed back into Blessed Sacrament Church during the pandemic, I didn’t know what to expect and had anticipated anxiously sitting in a pew in Church. Will I get contaminated or catch the virus? I was quite timid going back into Church. But the draw to attend Mass and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord not spiritually but in person was overwhelming to me. Bishop Reed said the 4 PM mass our first day back and he came out before Mass and stood at the side door and waved his hands side to side and with a welcoming great big smile said a wonderful big “Hi” to the whole congregation. I think everyone was pretty nervous because we were all so timid that day but when we saw him, we relaxed and felt more at ease.  That day, the Mass was magnified to me like never before. When the Bishop gave us the Eucharist, I felt like it was my First Holy Communion once again. Joy flooded my heart! I had been watching Mass quite often on TV but being there again was wonderful. It was an Epiphany for me.

Awaiting expectations: What does this have to do with the readings for this week? The Epiphany is this Sunday and is a joyful realization that something wonderful happened. The baby Jesus who is born to save us has arrived after anticipation and expectation of many years as the prophets had been telling us. The anticipation of what is to come is reflected in the readings during Advent culminating in that same happiness and joy we have all felt at some time or other during our lives. In the first reading, Isaiah tells us that “nations shall walk by your light… then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow.” St Paul tells the Ephesians “ … Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Hope springs eternal! The gospel tells us a familiar story of the Magi who “prostrated themselves and did him homage. They opened their treasures and offered him gifts…”  

What gifts do we Gentiles have to offer to Jesus? Do we hold back because we are afraid to open ourselves to others? Or do we go ahead with what we have to offer and keep our eyes focused on God, our savior? The gifts we have are varied, thankfully, because they fulfill different needs in many ways. Some of us have the gift of spirituality to share and some have the gift of service to others in a corporal way. Some people can serve in the public arena and some in their own circles of family and  friends. Whatever gifts we have to share, we should do so with our hearts and minds working in sync. Jesus expects us to follow his path, the path of “WWJD” (what would Jesus do?). It is not always the easiest path, but our Catholic faith urges us to follow the courageous path even if it is not the most popular.  

Shakespeare reminds us that “The meaning of life is to find our gift. The purpose of life is to give it away!”

The recent passage of the expanded abortion bill breaks my heart to the Nth degree. What can we do but to never give up fighting that horrid law? We need courage to continue the fight and not ever give up fighting for the sanctity of life, either at the beginning or the end of life and in between for those on death row. What do people not understand of the 5th commandment: “Thou shall not kill?”  

We also need to protect ourselves and everyone else from COVID 19 by following the pandemic prevention guidelines even if we are tired of them. We all know what is expected of us, so we need to do it in order to care for each other.  These guidelines become a  mandate to follow because of our responsibility to prevent the spread of the virus.

We may feel that we do not have anything to offer, but God made us in His likeness, so we do have something to offer, we just need to search for it and utilize our gifts for the good of mankind. It sounds lofty, but it doesn’t have to be. We can practice daily kindness and generosity in little ways. St Mother Teresa said: “We cannot do great things, we can only do little things with great love.”  I know I keep going back to Mother Teresa, but she is someone we can all identify with because of how she lived her life in our time. How lucky we are to have had such a wonderful role model right here on earth in our midst!

Rumi said: “Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings of Divine Love, which linger and continue to uplift others long after your sharing.”

Awaiting expectations: Some of us are closer to meeting our Maker than others, but we should all feel a sense of urgency to do what God put us on this precious earth to do. We need to ask Him to show us the way to do His will and pray that we follow what He intends for us to do. We need to listen in the quiet of our hearts, maybe in Adoration at Church or at night when we pray before bedtime or in the morning when we wake up. Whenever we have quiet time to ourselves, we need to grab it and listen.  Sometimes there is silence, which is probably what we need, but other times there may well be a message that pops into our heads that can awaken our conscience. We need to listen and be aware. 

We are all  waiting here together on earth for our expected arrival into heaven. On this earth we continuously prepare for our entrance into heaven after our work is done and we are called. We are told the earthly happiness is nothing compared to our expectations of heaven. There will be a perpetual light shining on us and we will be resting in peace. Yay! 

I just hope purgatory doesn’t get in my way and I have to wait to get my big hugs and kisses from God!

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