Solemnity of the Epiphany
Is 60: 1-6; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6; Mt 2:1-12
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When I think about these words spoken by the Magi to King Herod I realize why the Magi can truly be considered wise.
First of all, they are on a journey to find Jesus. This is always a good starting point. Too often our journeys are doomed before they start because they focus on some other transitory and ultimately unsatisfying end. Second, they travel in a community of like-minded souls. While each one of us must make a personal committment to Christ, the spiritual journey into an ever fuller relationship with the risen Christ was never meant to be made alone. In fact, it is the deepening and widening of our relationships with others in the human community that is the surest sign I know of that we are moving in the right direction.(A little aside: We really don’t know how large this community of travellers was – tradition commonly says that there were three wise men but all the story tells us is that there was more than one – Magi is a plural noun. Study the first reading carefully to get an idea of just how vast a community of travellers Matthew may have been envisioning.)
Third, the Magi had no preconcieved notions of where to find Jesus. They simply followed the star and allowed themselves to be led. Even if it meant travelling to what must have seemed to them like the ends of the earth – a tiny village in what had once been a distant outpost of the Persian Empire (likely that’s where they had come from) and was now a distant outpost of the Roman Empire. We don’t find Jesus where common consensus says we’ll find him, or where we expect to find him, and certainly not where we would prefer to find him. Often the star leads us to places we really would rather not go.
Finally, the journey to Jesus makes demands. The wisemen had to leave their gifts at the house in which they found Jesus. Our gifts, however glorious, are not gifts at all unless we place them at the service of Christ. That applies to spiritual gifts and those of a more tangible nature. (There’s a Buddhist saying – “If you are compassionate, you cannot be rich” – that has always both impressed and troubled me.)
Four signposts on the road to wisdom. If we look for Jesus, if we travel together, if we allow ourselves to be led and if we place our gifts at the feet of Jesus, we may never become Kings. But we will certainly find a place set aside for each of us in the kingdom.
Jim Philipps(3rd millennium pilgrim)
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