Searching to find the Light of Christmas.
On January 6th, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. The Epiphany is the biblical event where the Magi, also called the Three Wise Men, traveled from the East to pay homage to the newborn King, Jesus Christ. Tradition and art often picture them at the end of their journey, majestically arrayed, satisfied and delighted, and bearing lavish gifts. However, their journey had been difficult. The Magi did not have directions, nor could they travel by day. They followed a tiny star, bright though it was, in the night sky. They would have travelled far on foot, or with camels, through dangerous territory. They were manipulated by Herod, and unwittingly caused a monstrous slaughter of innocents. They rejoiced at finding the child, but did not stay long. They left quickly and changed their plans, returning by another route. Darkness and danger are more part of their story than joy and worship.
Like the journey of the Magi, the Spiritual Journey sometimes seems more darkness than joy. Our world is full of darkness, dangers and temptations. We suffer from narcissism, materialism and chronic busyness. Modern life has given us physical ease, but emotional and spiritual dis-ease. Christians have the examples of Jesus, the Apostles and the Saints, to be sure. But they are not here to guide us. Our earthly companions often have troubles of their own. We journey together, but the road is not straight and the path is often unclear and full of impediments. The temptation to give up is ever present.
As always, I find the story of the Magi very encouraging. They did not give up despite their difficulties. They believed in prophecy. They persisted and used well the guides they had. They encouraged and supported each other. They rejoiced when they found “the King” despite His disguise, that of a helpless baby. And, they went home by another route, transformed by their encounter with Christ.
Let us journey with the Magi, believing as they did. Let us encourage each other, journeying through the world looking carefully for the light that is Christmas, knowing that it is all around us, often in a difficult disguise. That is the Spiritual Journey.
Reference: A Star at its Rising; Advent meditations by John Shea, Creative Communications for the Parish. Fenton, Mo., 2013