HOMILY: Broken & Beautiful

The Epiphany of the Lord | January 8, 2017

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons

PROTIP: You can take a look at the readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
So a few of you may know this, but I became an Oblate right here at Salesianum almost a decade ago. I still remember kneeling in centenary hall, professing my vows before friends, family and many of these same Oblates gathered here.

After the ceremony, we all went down to the dining center for some food. And it was there that my parents handed me a gift.

It was a rosary, but it was the strangest rosary I had ever seen. It was made up of like 30 different kinds of beads that seemed to be in no particular order.

I was pretty confused to be honest. Why were my parents giving me this old, rather strange-looking rosary? But then I read the note that went along with the rosary.

It seems that my mom had spent the past few months collecting old rosaries that had broken from different family members and she had them fused into one rosary.

I looked at that rosary again and I now saw my entire family. My parents and grandparents, my great-grandparents and my brothers, my god parents and my pastor. They were all there.

And as I looked at the rosary, I thought about the people who had clung to those beads. Some were dead and some I had never known. Some had wandered from the faith and others had taught me how to pray. Some had known more than their share of sorrow and others had taught me how to laugh.

But each and every one of them loved me. And ultimately that is what this gift was all about.

They didn’t need to be perfect. They didn’t need to be saints.

All they needed to do was to love me the best they could. And that love would be the best gift of all.

I thought a lot about that rosary as I reflected on the Gospel for today.

For I couldn’t help but think of the gifts that the Magi laid before the crèche.

​Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh

Such different gifts. One fit for a king. Another saved for the divine. The final reserved only for death.

And yet all three were given.

Because in many ways, the gifts that the magi brought were a symbol of the true gift that they were bringing.

The gift of who they were.

​Their talents, their wealth, their power, their privilege

​Their faith, their compassion, their hope, their prayers

​Their disappointments and failures. Their losses and grief. Their fears and doubts.

Like a million broken, beautiful beads fused into one whole, these men presented every facet of their lives as one offering of who they were.

They were not perfect. They were not saints. But they were still willing to offer their lives as they were. Because they loved the God that they had sought for so long.

And like the wise men of old, I believe that on this feast day, we are called to do the same.

To offer our gifts before this altar.

To offer our successes and our accomplishments. To offer our strengths and talents. To offer our wealth and status.

To offer our dreams and hopes. Our values and convictions. Our character and our faith.

To offer our failures and mistakes. Our anxieties and fears. Our doubts and struggles. Our grief and our pain.

For in laying them down, we ultimately offer who we are. And in this sacrament that we celebrate, our God takes what we offer and transforms it into something miraculous. Transforms us into something miraculous.

We may not be perfect. We may not be saints.

But we can still choose to offer ourselves to our God. We can still choose to love.

So what do you bring this day, my friends? Who do you offer your God this morning?

May God be Praised.

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