I have a complicated relationship with waking up in the morning.
On most days, I would say that I really hate it. I'm naturally a night person, so I stay up later than I should and then struggle to get out of bed when my alarm goes off. That's another thing I really can't stand: my alarm.
Over the years, I've tried many things to get better at waking up and, just recently, I've tried something new. I bought an alarm clock that wakes you up with a light that gradually gets brighter and brighter over about 30 minutes before you want to wake up. It's based on the idea that the sun is what is supposed to tell our bodies that it's time to get moving.
I've only tried it for a couple mornings so far, but it's an interesting experience to wake up to - what amounts to - the Sun glowing from your dresser (click here for a small demonstration).
Today's feast of the Epiphany of the Lord made me think of all this because epiphany means "to shine upon" and that is what we hear about in today's readings: God shining upon humanity; but it doesn't happen all at once. Like the sun or like a glowing alarm clock, God revealed his light to the world gradually.
Isaiah the prophet, in our first reading, speaks of a time when the glory of the Lord will shine on Jerusalem - that God's light will guide even the Gentile nations to worship him with the people of Israel.
Our Gospel shows us the very beginnings of that prophecy being fulfilled in the story of the magi from the east. We know next to nothing about them, but they followed a light that lead them to the true Light.
Jesus' coming into the world is already bearing fruit: the covenant that God made with Israel is now drawing all of humanity together to know, love, and worship the one, true God. As St. Paul writes in our second reading:
"It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."
God is for everyone and extends the invitation to a relationship with him to everyone.
That goes for us as well.
We are all here because we are following Christ - probably not perfectly, but we are all works in progress.
There is always more, though. The light of Christ has appeared in our lives and we must let it penetrate every corner of ourselves. All of us have dark rooms and closets that we would rather stay hidden, but a relationship with God means letting him into all of those spaces - letting him be present with us even at our most shameful or embarrassing.
Don't be afraid to let Christ's light brighten the parts of your life that don't totally belong to him.
That alarm clock - that I hope will make me better at getting out of bed in the morning - it brightens gradually, slowly filling the room with light. God did the same thing: gradually revealing himself to the world and only showing his fullness with the coming of Christ.
That light can be blinding, but the more we stay with it and open ourselves to it, the more we will see - not just of who we are, but we will see God who loves us enough to show us the way to him.