Do you think that the opinion expressed by the Romans was drawn after they interviewed Jesus Christ? Of course not, the events took place two centuries after Jesus’ birth. The opinion was drawn on the basis of the belief of the followers of Christ, the Christians of that time, who had refused a compromise of having peace and quiet for the price of placing the Lord Jesus among other gods and goddesses. They said: “No! Jesus is the only God with his Father and the Holy Spirit in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity.” Their stand enraged the political and social powers of the empire who ordered that all citizens had to perform an act of worship for those many gods. The Christians again said “No” and the persecutions started again.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Sometime I am asked whether Christmas was observed in those early centuries of our Church. The answer is: Christmas wasn’t celebrated as a feast day until the fourth century. The only celebration our Christians had for a couple of centuries was a weekly Sunday and the yearly celebration of Easter. If you may think that it was strange not to have Christmas - by the way just imagine the reaction of shops and other businesses today at the proposal of not having Christmas - remember that for those Christians their daily life provided opportunities to acknowledge and take a firm stand for what we celebrate in a cosy way here in Australia at Christmas. When they were imprisoned for not worshiping pagan gods, when they were losing their belongings for refusing to burn incense before the statues of pagan gods they were saying what we express singing our carols. That Jesus Christ is God, that He is our only Saviour, that He is our ruler. Interestingly Epiphany and Christmas were introduced were the persecutions ceased. I think that the Holy Spirit inspired the Church to introduce those celebrations when life became easy for Christians so that they could get reinvigorated and strengthened to continue bearing witness to Jesus Christ, because an easy life is more dangerous to faith then persecutions.
The Solemnity of Epiphany, which we have today, is not to justify giving Christmas presents following the example of the Wise Men but to be amazed and uplifted at the belief that God the Father gave us his only Son and that God the Father moved heaven and earth to help us to recognise in this Little Baby his Only Begotten Son. He moved heaven and earth by engaging the angels to show the shepherds the way to the Lord Jesus. He moved heaven and earth by engaging the stars and the sky to show the Maggi the way to the Lord Jesus. However the God the Father did even more then moving heaven and earth for those first visitors to the Lord Jesus, he sent the Holy Spirit to move their hearts, minds and souls to believe that this Little Baby was God himself. That’s why the poor shepherds went back to their flocks jumping with joy which even this weekend Jackpot of 30 million dollars couldn’t give them. That’s why the Wise Men gave the Lord Jesus not three but four gifts. Do you know what the fourth gift was? The protection they gave to the Holy Family by bypassing Herod. They returned home by a different way. They returned home different people. They came to Bethlehem as searching pagans. They returned home as believers who found the true God and they took a firm stand for what they believed.
My Dear Friends! I pray for you, and please pray for me, so that we who live in this cosy country of Australia may have our hearts, minds and souls moved by the Holy Spirit as we emerging from our Christmas celebrations to take always a firm stand for our belief that Jesus Christ is the Only God with his Father and the Holy Spirit in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity.