STORY OF RABBIT AND EPIPHANY
(A biblical refection on THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD, Sunday – 6 January 2013)
First Reading: Is 60:1-6; Psalms: Ps 72:1-2,7-8,10-13; Second Reading: Eph 3:2-3,5-6; Gospel Reading: Mt 2:1-12
IN ancient literature there is a whole body of stories arising out the experiences of early Christian hermits in the deserts of Egypt.
In one such story, a young man aspiring to holiness, visits the hermitage of a pious old man who had lived in the desert for many years.
The young man asks the wise, old hermit, “Why is it that some men come into the desert, pray zealously, and yet leave after a short time, while others like yourself, remain on their spiritual journey for a lifetime?”
The old man smiles and says, “Let me tell you a story. One day as I was sitting here quietly with my dog, a large rabbit suddenly ran past us. My dog immediately jumped up barking loudly, and gave chase to the rabbit.
He chased the rabbit over the sand dunes with much determination. Soon other dogs, attracted by his barkings, joined him.
What a sight it was as the pack of dogs gave chase to the rabbit. Slowly, however, they began to drop out, one-by-one, until only my dog persevered to the end.”
“In that sorry is the answer to your question,” says the wise hermit.
The young man sits in confused silence. “Sir, I do not understand,” he asked. “What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the pursuit of holiness?”
To which the old man replies, “Those dogs who dropped out of the chase did so because they had not seen the rabbit! Only my dog had seen the rabbit.”
During the rush hours of the Christmas season, many of us followed the crowd with a frenzied urgency. We went around in circles in shopping malls.
Our body adrenalins kept flowing high. We followed each other through the rituals, customs and tradition.
And then when the festive celebration was over and all the gifts were exchanged and opened, we dropped out one-by-one from sheer exhaustion. Sad to say, for many of us that was Christmas.
This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Epiphany of feast of the Magi. (Note that Scripture tells us that they were not kings but “magi” meaning wise men or astrologers).
When we reflect on their story, we must remember that the star was up there for everyone to see. But the magi were open-minded and humble.
The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote: “Only two classes of people found Him: the Shepherds and the Wise Men – those who know they know little, and those who know they do not know everything; never the man who thinks he knows.”
Scripture scholars cannot determine with precision which star shone with such particular brilliance at Jesus’ birth, however the important lesson of the episode is the those “Wise Men from the East” (Mt 2:1) had seen it, read its meaning and followed it. “We have seen His star and have come to worship Him” (Mt 2:2).
The star of Bethlehem was there for us to see, but did we miss it because our eyes were narrowly focused on many other things?
For lack of vision, did we fail to grasp the meaning of Christmas for our lives? For lack of vision, did we fail to experience the unique Presence of God in our Christmas celebrations?
It has been said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This is true for any government, for any organization, for any individual.
There has to be a vision guiding us to our destination. We need to pause occasionally to evaluate and renew our lives, in the context of our original vision.
Where is my life heading to? Is it going in circles? Have I been faithful to my vows as a married person, as a religious? Is our government, our organization moving forward towards a clear definite goal?
Without a clear vision we – like the dogs in the story – will grow weary and tired.
Not seeing the “rabbit,” we dropped out.
Note: Taken from Fr. Bel San Luis SVD, WORD ALIVE – REFLECTIONS ON THE SUNDAY GOSPEL C CYCLE 1998, Manila, the Philippines: LOGOS PUBLICATIONS, INC., 1974, pages 15-17.
Jakarta, 6 January 2013
A Christian Pilgrim