Epiphany: The feast commemorating Christ's manifestation to the Gentiles in the person of the Magi, as well as his baptism and first miracle at Cana. It began in the East in the third century and soon spread to the West, where it is identifies with the visit of the Magi. In some countries it is known as Twelfth Night (after Christmas) and is the occasion for special celebrations. For centuries the Epiphany has been a holy day of obligation in many places. (Etym. Greek epiphaneia: appearance, manifestation.)
Our Archbishop, Cardinal Wuerl, has had as his motto since becoming a bishop, “Thy Kingdom Come.” Several years ago, on the occasion of his 25th anniversary of ordination a bishop by Pope John Paul II, he acknowledged people from around the Archdiocese with a new award he called Manifesting the Kingdom. These people were chosen for having by their lives and their work built up the Church and made Christ’s presence known in outstanding ways.
Now, as we begin the year that will mark the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Archdiocese of Washington, once again he is calling for recognition of the gifted and gift-giving souls who have made an extraordinary contribution to the life of our local church.
From our parish, His Eminence will be acknowledging the good work and gracious spirit of David and Mary Ellen Barringer. They have worked most visibly in the Religious Education community and Boy Scouts here, but overall have been leaven in the loaf of our parish across the spectrum of our life and activity.
Because I had seen them working for the Scouts, I approached them in 2008 to help me organize and energize the families who participate in our Religious Education program. They eagerly and energetically took up leadership of the Religious Education Enrichment Committee (REEC), which has been an engine of community- and faith-building in that portion of our parish family.
In seeking to share their commitment to the faith, they first worked to deepen and strengthen their own. The grace that they found in this has led them both to be leaders among our parishioners who work together to grow in the knowledge and love of God and of His Son Jesus Christ. They have been leaders in the men’s and women’s groups, respectively; continued to be strong in Scout leadership; and have led Bible study and other enrichment opportunities. Both have also served well as lectors at weekday and Sunday Masses.
This past summer, Dave took on a new position as head of the nationwide Saint Vincent de Paul Society, which requires that he live most of the time in Saint Louis. Mary Ellen remains here with their son Thomas until he finishes at DeMatha in 2015. We still see a good bit of Dave, who predictably lends a hand whenever he is back in town.
Dave and Mary Ellen have been Manifesting the Kingdom here for all these years, and so I am glad that Cardinal Wuerl will present the award to them this Sunday (January 5th) afternoon at two o’clock, at a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. If you cannot join us there for it, keep them in your prayers, and pray as well that God continue to inspire good people among us here to take up the life-giving work of manifesting the Kingdom.
The manifestation of the kingdom that we celebrate on this Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the Kingdom come, and the King who will come. It is a marvelous occasion to remember that we are all called, and able, to manifest this Kingdom now, in our own day, and in our world.