Feast of the Epiphany
January 7, 2018
Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville 4:00pm and 8:00am
Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore 11:00am
I think each of us has a star in our lives.
I don’t mean a movie star, but I do mean that each of us has something leading us either from inside or from outside ourselves toward some goal. Today’s gospel passage tells about the Magi following a star and that star is leading them to the newborn Christ.
Last Sunday, a college student named Brian at Saint Matthew’s Parish in Baltimore enthusiastically told me that he would be entering pharmacy school this year. He is following a star that is leading him to use his God-given abilities and pursue a career in pharmacy.
Some of us may now be retired and our star may be to do whatever we can for our loved ones and for anyone in need, even if we can only pray for them. So, the question is: what is our star?
And, whatever our star is, will it in some way be like the star that the Magi are following? Will it in some way lead us to God or make God more present on this earth?
Now the Magi in today’s gospel are on a journey.
The passage says that they come from the East, maybe present-day Iran or Iraq. They have left their home and are on a journey.
This journey image is a good way for all of us to understand our lives. We are all on a journey and a journey makes some demands on us.
It may mean that we leave our family home and enter a new life in the commitment of marriage. It may mean that we read or participate in a Bible study program as a way to come to a more positive relationship with God.
Seeing our lives as a journey is challenging, but also life-giving. So the question is: what are the demands of the journey that we are on right now?
Notice also that the Magi detect a hurdle on their journey.
Their hurdle is King Herod. Herod pretends to be interested in this young child, but the Magi sense that he wants to do violence to the child.
There will also be hurdles for us as we follow our star and make our journey. Maybe we will get distracted by the lure of having a good time all the time and waste our talents and opportunities.
Or maybe someone is constantly trying to discourage us from following the star that we believe is right for us. The question is: what hurdles do we have on our journey?
Then the gospel tells us that the Magi give gifts to the newborn Christ.
Maybe this is a good test of the star we are following and the journey we are on. Does it lead us to be giving?
Maybe our giving is simply taking good care of those in our family. Or maybe we can give some of our time to God’s work beyond our family.
Maybe we can bake casseroles for a soup kitchen or give time teaching religion to the children. The question is: What are we giving to God on our journey?
And finally, the gospel tells us that the Magi had to change their plans.
After seeing the child, they are warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, but to return home by another route. The insight here is that getting close to the Lord Jesus may also change us.
In fact, change and growth seem to be what the star and the journey are all about.
So, for example, maybe we are being led to see things more from the perspective of those who are different from us, as the Magi and shepherds in Bethlehem are very different kinds of people, and stop criticizing or putting these people down. The question is: How is our star or our journey calling us to change?
I guess what I am really saying is that this simple, little story of the Magi is really our story.
The star, the journey, the hurdles, the giving, and the change – all the pieces of this story reflect the life experience of each one of us. They may lead us to some good reflection today.