Father Philip Writes...
The Christmass season in the Church concludes on 10th January with what is called ‘Epiphany’ – the ‘showing’, ‘revealing’ or ‘manifestation’ of Christ – first to the Wise Men. The ‘stable’ of the crib is transformed to look like a house.
We need also to recall that Herod had all boys killed up to the age of 2 – another indication that Christ’s birth could have been as long ago as two years.
Because the Bible specifically states the wise men went to the house (not a stable), it has become a custom to bless chalk at this time and mark our own homes to help us remember to be God-bearers like Mary, to those around us. The custom is to mark with blessed chalk near the main doorway of your home with the date of the year and the traditional initials of the wise men, whose names were given in the 6th Century:
Christmass and Epiphany are reminders to us that we are to show Christ to those around us.
Fr Michael Hollings writes in one of his books:
Soon after her death I was visiting another person along her road. As I walked along I heard a loud tapping on the window. I saw an old man beckoning me. I went to the door and asked what he wanted. He said: “That old lady down there – I’ve not seen her! Where is she?” I told him she had died. “Oh dear!” he said, “She was my religion.”
Fr Hollings said he related that story because, although she did not know it, that elderly woman was a Sacrament – i.e. an outward sign of God’s love to that old man and a sign to him o the presence of God.
Christmass means the Mass of Christ; We are all called to be signs of the presence of God. People see us come to Mass and leave again. Do they see God’s love radiate from us? The blessing of our homes is one way we show we belong to Christ; I find several people ask me what the letters mean on my house and it gives an opportunity to explain - and hopefully show his love.
Happy Christmasstide –