The “Open Secret”

Epiphany 2

John 1;35-42

An ‘Open Secret’ sounds like a contradiction. But we saw, last month, how Secrecy is essential to God’s Plan for saving His World – because it needs unfolding to us bit by bit, to make it viable.

The Calling of the First Apostles, Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1481. (Public Domain)

For Act One of God’s Incarnation Strategy, He chose Mary to play the Lead Part by becoming the Mother of His Incarnate Son. This called for her wholehearted “Amen. Yes certainly” to His invitation. 

We next considered those misgivings which so often follow hard on the heels of commitments to God: like how would Mary’s family, friends, and fiancé  react to what the Angel had told her – that she’d become pregnant, but that her Child would have no human Father? 

Now let’s look at Act Two: God’s ‘Epiphany-Strategy’. The word ‘Epiphany’ means revealing or unwrapping, and involves, say, a gift, or a rolled-up map being gradually unrolled or unwrapped to see what’s concealed inside. ‘Wrapping-and-Revealing’ is something which God often does – and, by watching closely how God works, we shall start learning to use that strategy ourselves.

In Act Two, God chose His ‘Supporting Cast’ for Mary – people like Joseph her fiancé, Anne and Joachim her parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, Simeon and Anna in Jerusalem. Then He invited the Magi to take part, and, over the ensuing years, He chose people like John the Baptist, Andrew and Peter, James and John – allocating to each their appointed task (or tasks). 

Those He chose were all different: some were men, some women; some were learned, others uneducated. One was a carpenter, another a tax-collector, yet others were fishermen. Some, like Simeon and Anna, were elderly, others, like Mary, were teenagers. 

What they all had in common was what might be called the ‘Amen Factor’, of saying, ‘Amen, Yes’ to God’s call. Some, like Mary, said ‘Amen’ immediately; others needed time to think about it: the Magi faced a long journey, both physically and spiritually; for some it took a miracle by Jesus to get them to the ‘tipping-point’ of saying ‘Amen’; St Joseph needed the visit of an angel to reassure him!

God chooses those whom He knows to be the right ones for the task in hand. So it’s no use thinking to ourselves “God will never choose me – because I’m not clever, talented or ‘holy’ enough to be used by Him in His service”. 

Given those “Amens” on our part, there’s no limit to what He can enable us to achieve for Him;  nor – by the way – is there any ‘Safe Space’ for us (other than Hell!) to put ourselves beyond His reach! 

God seldom expects people to work for Him on their own. Once we’ve said our “Amen” to God, we discover others who’ve been called by God to work with us. 

He shares His Secrets with us not as our private property, but to enable us to share them with others, so between us we can do His Will on earth in ways, and to an extent, that on our own, we couldn’t. 

So Epiphany is an opportunity to throw away that wrapping which we find so attractive, and start learning about the Secrets of God, which lie hidden, until He reveals them to us, and then expects us to share with anyone who shows the slightest interest in ‘dis-covering’ them for themselves.

Fr. Francis Gardom

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