Appleton, WI

January 2 Homily Connect

The Epiphany of the Lord

A Prophet of the Present Franciscan Friar, Fr. Richard Rohr

  • Founder of Center for Action and Contemplation – Albuquerque, NM
  • He does creative theology-stretches the minds and hearts of those who follow his work
  • His latest book called The Universal Christ – masterpiece- can open up our small understanding of Jesus as Christ of the universe
  • Recounts experience of twenty years ago as he directed retreats all over India
  • He became very ill and describes sickness this way: “So they put a young Hindu boy in charge of me. He was asked to care for me until I was nursed back to health. The boy waited on me day and night, making sure that my every need was met and that my little bare room was kept clean. All along, always asking me what I needed. As I lay in bed, I wondered how a young man could come to such love, deeply caring for someone that he never knew. So one morning I asked him, “Who is God for you?” As most people from Asia have great reverence for older people, he said very politely, “Sir, I believe that whenever one person shows respect for another person, there is God. Some might want to point out that here was a Hindu boy, a pagan, religiously lost, with no hope of going to Heaven.”Father Richard, however, says, “It was very clear to me that this very young man was filled with life. He was filled with reverence and respect for everything that was around him – even me, a foreigner. And it was in his respect for me, and I hope mine for him, that we both met God.”

Fr. Rohr’s Encounter and the Epiphany

  • I believe that Fr. Rohr’s encounter captures the experience of the Epiphany
  • Hebrew and Christian Scriptures pointed to the Messiah’s coming
  • Jesus was a gift to all – to the anawim – the little ones – marginalized – foreigners
  • Jewish were Chosen People – the coming of foreigners from faraway places signals that all God’s people are Chosen

Saint Paul Reminds The Church at Ephesus

  • Jesus “is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the wall of enmity.” (Eph 2.14)
  • There are no walls that divide the human race
  • Solidarity not grounded in an “us versus them” mentality

Where There is Exclusion, There is Not God

  • Nationalism, exceptionalism, phobias against people who are different – skin color, faith practices, sexual identity fractures the human family and creates wall of division
  • This is contrary to the Epiphany

The Late Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa

  • Was a great activist for the solidarity of humankind
  • Spent Life advocating for his black brothers and sisters who were weighed down by the scourge of apartheid
  • Archbishop Tutu said:  I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I am as passionate about his campaign as I ever was about apartheid. 
  • We certainly do not worship a God either who is racist, sexist, excludes or demeans

After the Magi Encountered the Savior

  • They returned to their country by another route
  • Let’s begin a New Year together- let’s stretch our hearts to be big and open like the Savior
  • Let’s identify what restricts or wrinkles our hearts – identify the divisions among us

Marquette University Getting Ready to Welcome

  • The Bita Family are refugees from Afghanistan who took eight attempts to board a plane out of country
  • Experienced horrible things. Son Barbod is struggling from the trauma. Father Basir will study mental health counseling at Marquette tuition free. Bita family will move from Vancouver to Milwaukee – Even after everything he and his family endured, he believes:Ultimately, I recognized that there’s no difference between me and you, between the Taliban and other people. First, we are human beings. Then, we are Americans, Canadians, Afghans, and Catholics or Muslims.”

Yes, this holy Feast of Epiphany affirms that we have a dear Savior who has opened his heart to every person, forever erasing all boundaries!


  • What impacted you from the readings/homily?
  • How have you met God in the respect of others?
  • What do you think of the statement “Where there is exclusion, there is not God?” Have you ever experienced this?
  • What was your reaction to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s statement “I would not worship a God who was homophobic….?
  • What is your current openness to the Afghani refugees who are joining our communities?


Consider how you will stretch your heart for others on this Feast of the Epiphany. Make it a part of your New Years’s resolutions.