For Sunday, January 5, 2020
The Epiphany of the Lord
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
“Wise men still seek him” is calligraphed across an ornament adorning my Christmas tree. The weighty, frosted glass ornament came as a gift, just months into my journey of seeking to know Jesus better (after years of avoiding him). I was nudged on this journey by an unexpected invitation to join a small group of women forming a Bible study. Reading the Bible was a foreign concept to me. I chuckled and asked, “Do Catholics read the Bible?”
Happily, I quickly learned that yes, Catholics do study the Scriptures. The entire Catholic Mass is steeped in the Word of God. What an incredible blessing this simple act of accepting an invitation to seek someone I knew so little about would be in transforming my faith.
A star motivated the magi to seek, an unexplainable nudge to follow its guiding light. Not only would this star illuminate their physical path, but this heavenly sign would pull these non-believers towards the Radiant Light, enlightening their spiritual path. The magi’s visit — along with the Annunciation, the visit of the shepherds, and the work of John the Baptist — methodically revealed to the world Jesus as priest, prophet, and king. God’s thoughtful, meticulous, life-giving actions in sending His firstborn Son to build His kingdom stands in staunch comparison to Herod’s quick, selfish decision to slaughter the firstborn sons of his kingdom.
And where were they led? To Bethlehem, a place whose name means “house of bread.” That’s appropriate, and no coincidence, as Jesus was born to be the Bread of Life. The beautiful symbolism of the manger, a feeding trough, should not be lost on those who still seek him. God, who could have chosen to send His Son to earth in any way or stage of life, choose the humility of an infant. Jesus remains in the humblest of manners in the Eucharist under the guise of wine, and of course, bread.
The magi came to “do him homage.” Their primary objective to worship and adore him — someone they knew nothing about but knew from the star — was of great importance. When they came upon the place where the star rested, their reaction was not only joy but was of being overjoyed, as the Scriptures recount. What is your reaction when you enter the place where Jesus is today — your parish church or adoration chapel? Do you rejoice and give Jesus great honor and respect? The magi prostrated themselves, while today some who come into his Real Presence barely genuflect.
The magi offered their treasure, bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold represented Christ’s kingship, frankincense his divinity, and myrrh his humanity. The magi themselves embody an essential element of Christ’s mission. They exemplify the truth that Jesus’ birth was not only for the chosen people but for all people. Jesus himself is on a journey of seeking. He seeks to save all of God’s children.
The magi came to adore the newborn king. When was the last time you sought to spend time adoring Christ? Jesus humbly waits for us to come and adore him — in tabernacles and monstrances. Following the promptings of the star, the magi come from afar to seek and worship, while we probably only have to drive 5, 10, maybe 20 minutes. Yet we do not follow the promptings of our hearts. The star trying to illuminate our way comes from that restless place St. Augustine speaks about, the place that knows no rest until it finds the One it seeks.
Spending time in adoration has been as life-changing for me as the invitation to study God’s Word at my friend’s house. There, in the quiet of the adoration chapel, I finally have permission to sit quietly, listen, and know that He is God. I kneel and bow my head to pay him homage, then slip into the pew to spend time at the Master’s feet, learning and growing in faith.
The magi opened their earthly treasures, but their greatest gift was offering Jesus their time. For a short while, they left the responsibilities of their lives to make time to be with Jesus. They recognized the importance, regardless of work, family, or long to-do lists, to seek time to be with the Lord.