My parents wanted children for years, and were unable to have any. Finally, my mom had two miscarriages, followed by a boy who was full term, but died the day he was born. Then I came along (followed later by two sisters). As a child I knew I was loved and wanted. My parents had so desired a child, and I was the apple of their eye. Now, as an adult, I look back on my childhood and know how nice it was to be loved, and to be considered so special. Yet there was a downside to that specialness as well. Somehow I got it into my little head that because they had waited so long for a child, and were so happy because of me, I was not allowed to disappoint them. Thus, during much of my adolescence I felt like I was living a double life. I couldn’t admit any of the normal “rebellions” that most teenagers experience. Anything I did that I thought might disappoint my parents (like smoking or drinking or…) I felt I had to keep secret from them. And, of course, I lived in great fear that I would be found out. I just knew that if they learned the truth they would know that I wasn’t special at all.
Of course, the reality is that even with my flaws and rebellions and sins, I am special in God’s eyes. God has chosen to dwell at the core of my being. Nothing I can do can erase that. And that specialness has nothing to do with the fact that my parents wanted a child so badly, or anything at all that I have done. I am special because God created me and God loves me. And the same goes for each of you reading this, and for all other people. Somewhere down deep in each one of us, God has chosen to dwell. Sometimes we do our best to camouflage that presence; sometimes it’s really hard to find it in some people. Yet, it’s there.
I think that Epiphany, which we celebrate this weekend, points to that. Of course, Jesus is unique. God has not only chosen to dwell in Jesus, but Jesus himself is God. Yet most people in Jesus’ day never recognized that. We celebrate the reality that the Magi recognized God where one would least expect to find God: in a poor little baby. I pray that each of us may, more and more, learn to recognize God in all those hidden places, especially in each and every human being. Wouldn’t this world be a much better place if we did?