January 8, 2023
Matthew 2: 1-12
The Three Kings, Magi, Wise Men, whatever we choose to call them, are shrouded in mystery, a mystery which, in some sense, brings us closer to each other. We are told they were astrologers, aware of the Messianic prophesies and searching the skies for significant signs. Having seen the ‘star in the east,’ they were prepared to set out on a journey to find the ‘Christ Child.’ They certainly had great faith in the ‘signs of the times’ not knowing what their journey would entail, what they would find at the end of it and if indeed it was all going to be worthwhile. But set out they did with great hope and enthusiasm. Our childhood ‘Kings,’ majestic and impressive as they tread the desert with their trusty camels, give us a picture which was possibly vastly different from the reality.
T. S. Eliot speaks graphically of the journey,
“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
Having encountered numerous challenges, arriving at the end of their travels the Magi were met by the totally unexpected. In a simple dwelling, “They found the child with Mary his mother,” and knew beyond word or explanation the culmination of prophecy and revelation. As they presented their gifts, they too received a gift – the gift of God made man, not for any exclusive group, but for all generations. The end of the journey was, in reality just a beginning, the beginning of all beginnings. Now they were to share this gift as they returned home by another route, unknown and untrodden.
Just as the Magi began their journey with the star, so too the star of hope and joy which signalled our own birth is our constant guide as we move through life. Having known the Lord we too like the Magi are always and inevitably being given new invitations, to return another way, to take new paths, new paths inwards to the centre of our being, to that ‘no place,’ where He dwells.
We talk of ‘searching,’ but maybe this idea of ‘searching’ is totally misplaced. There really is no searching to be done. We have already arrived, been found and overwhelmed by the God of all goodness. My life’s work is to believe in that reality, to let it happen and to live out of that truth, as I share my gift with the world.
Maybe this is the year when I recognise with greater understanding that I am continuing my journey along a new route – no going back to old routines and familiar places, no apathy or complacency. I continue along an unknown path with power, strength and a vibrant acceptance which leads deeper and deeper into that mystery we call God.
Meeting the Magi on the Feast of the Epiphany can be a truly wonderful experience. As they open their gifts to offer us ‘Insight,’ ‘Inspiration’ and most of all, ‘Joy,’ may we know that the searching really is over and we have already been found by Emmanuel, God with us, God always with us, yesterday, today, and for all the tomorrows!
T. S. Eliot poses the question;
“Were we led all that way for Birth or Death?”
For me, would responding to God’s call at this moment involve birth, death or both?
Can I identify the implications?
Matthew 2: 1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
The Gospel of the Lord