by Mallorie Gerwitz
Today, on January 6, the Church traditionally celebrates the feast of the Epiphany, the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles in the form of three Magi. It is a moment of great light piercing the darkness. How our world hungers for that light!
The joy of the world frequently seems overshadowed by the news of another shooting, a woman being raped, women being held captive by ISIS or the lack of services to those living on the margins of society. I often call on my friend John (as in…the Gospel of John) when I feel the weight of darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” (John 1:5, 1:16)
I found a glimmer of this surmounting light recently at the Catholic Worker house in Kansas City. That particular evening, I was tired, overextended and really wanted to be back in my bed sleeping from the busy workweek I had just had. Still, I went. While at the Worker, a group of men and women were playing dominoes. Dominoes, I quickly found out, was a big thing for this group. Getting in on the next game, I realized that this game wasn’t the Dominoes I was familiar with. Even after a few rounds, I was struggling to catch on to how the “money,” as they called the points, was earned. As the dominoes were slapped onto the table and “money” was gained right and left but not by me, I sat wondering, “How in the world does this work?”
An onlooker came up behind me and said, “I haven’t seen you in here before. Who are you?” I introduced myself, and he shook my hand. The game of dominoes went on, and my new friend intuitively caught onto the fact that I did not have a clue. He was not shy about his discovery, either, as he exclaimed, “What are you doing?! You want to play this…” He quickly exchanged out the domino I had laid down and placed another on the table instead so I finally could get some points. He emphatically told the score keeper, “Give her the money… Write it down!”
I realized that this onlooker, this person whom I had met only moments ago, was looking out for me. He was advocating for me, making sure I wasn’t getting the wool pulled over my head. He was making sure I wasn’t being taken advantage of. Granted, it was just a game of dominoes, but it became something more. The Love that this man extended to me revealed “the light shining through the darkness.” Christ was shining through this man, who came in to the Catholic Worker to get out of the cold and to eat a hot meal. He showed unto me the Love of Christ on this night that I almost didn’t come because I was tired and wanted to be in bed.
At this Epiphany time, I pray that I remain awake to those who are the light of Christ among us. Just as the Magi didn’t expect to find the sought-for “King” in such a humble setting, Jesus reveals himself to us in surprising ways. We can see Christ in the poor and the marginalized, like the onlooker who became my friend in a simple game of Dominoes. He taught me not just how to earn points in Dominoes, but he awoke in me the importance of Loving our neighbor, looking out for one another, and being community. He reminded me that I am not always the one to teach, but to be taught. He showed me that, sometimes, just showing up is enough.
The Magi traveled far to look upon the face of the newborn Jesus. We know that He is in our midst daily. The Epiphany reminds us to show up, to put ourselves in places of darkness, and to be ready to be surprised by the Light that always overcomes.