Dear Brothers & Sisters,
“WE THREE KINGS OF ORIENT ARE BEARING GIFTS WE TRAVERSE AFAR.” This is a well known song that we always sing and hear during this time. However, I’m not sure if we ever had time to reflect upon these words. As we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany this weekend, I would like to reflect three things about these men, they left their homes, traveled from far away, and returned in a different way.
There are many traditions and myths about who the wise men were. Were they truly kings? Were they astronomers? Where did they come from? What kind of gifts did they bring? When did they arrive in Bethlehem? Some of these questions we can only assume different possibilities, but we do have a few things that we know for sure as we hear in the song. They are three men, who traveled from afar bearing gifts for Jesus. Maybe we imagine a modern day travel, in which three men got together at the airport and got on a plane to Israel, and either got a transfer or an Uber following the GPS location of the child. However, back in the day, these men risked their lives by embarking on such a trip. They had to face elements in the long trip crossing the desert, as well as all the perils that they could have encountered, whether wild animals, bandits, or something else. They had to renounce the comfort of their house, and maybe even their reason to do such a thing. But they were certain of the sign they saw in the sky. They were people waiting to hear a word from God that would point in the right direction. Pope Benedict XVI once said “The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star. It was as if the journey had always been a part of their destiny, and was finally about to begin”.
As their story is very pretty and inspirational, now let’s place ourselves as part of this story. What would have happened if we were one of them? Would we spend endless hours looking for a sign from God? Would we have renounced the comfort of our lives, leaving everything behind to begin this journey? What would we be willing to risk in order to see the Messiah face to face? These are interesting questions that we should ask ourselves from time to time, because God wants to reveal himself (have an epiphany) to us every day. But we have to decide, whether we want it or not, what we are willing to leave behind, and whether we are willing to face the challenges of that journey.
Each day we bring to God many intentions of our lives. There are certain situations that can expose our lack of charity, our pride, and other sins, which upon some examination of conscience, we ask God to help us with those things. The same can be said about any other vice or sin. But the same question comes again, what are we willing to do, or how far are we willing to go in order to be humble, charitable, etc.? These three characters understood that without having the Messiah in their lives, everything else would become meaningless. Without having this personal encounter with Jesus, all the riches in the world would count for nothing, and we assume that they knew all of that. But do we know, or are we aware of that all the time? Again going back to the words of the Pope, The better you know Jesus the more his mystery attracts you. The more you discover him, the more you are moved to seek him. This is a movement of the Spirit which lasts throughout life.”
We also know that the Magi “returned to their own country by a different way.” Their story does not end here, as they still had to travel back to their homes. Imagine facing all the same challenges and dangers of this journey once again. However, now they did not have the star to follow. This is because after seeing Jesus, the light was now inside them. Later in life Jesus will confirm that by saying that we are the light of the World. Even in our baptism, we receive the light of Christ. Pope Benedict refers to the new mission that the Magi had saying that, “Their task was to guard and nourish it in the constant memory of Christ, of his Holy Face, of his ineffable Love.” This is the same mission that all of us Christians have. Indeed, I would go one step further than that. Our mission is to guard, nourish the love of God, but WE ARE ALSO CALLED TO SPREAD THIS LOVE. Here in the parish we will have an opportunity to share this love by attending the March for Life on Jan 20-21. On a local level, you can participate (weather permitting) joining us CAROLING THROUGH MARLBORO THIS SUNDAY. We plan to gather here in the church at 5:30pm, we would sing at the end of the 5:00pm mass, then we would go out to visit 3 houses. (Please see the flyer/poster for more information.)
Father Steven Clemence