THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
January 3, 2021
Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6
Praying is praying is praying, or so it would seem, except that there are many and varied ways to pray, each being as nuanced as the person praying. Some talk to God, some ask, some pour out their hearts, some pour out their fears and some are always seeking forgiveness.
Talking to God, however, is only one way of praying. Some find the rosary helpful, some do spiritual reading as prayer, some do centering prayer and some meditate on scripture. Prayer and how we pray tends to reflect our personality.
One way of praying with Scripture is to ask ourselves how a particular Gospel event or parable is our story. Consider how the story of the magi from the Feast of the Epiphany echoes in many ways our own searching through life.
What was it that started them on their journey – a faith journey of sorts: A passing comment from someone? One of them saying to the others, “come along with me?” An inner instinct that said there must be more to life, as if to follow some inner star? They might have said as many do today, “We’re spiritual but not very religious.” In short, they became seekers, as we all are.
It wasn’t an easy trek for them, I suspect. And maybe nobody else understood what they were looking for. No doubt they may have wondered themselves. Are we fooling ourselves? Is it our imagination? What are we hoping to find?
Like us, along the way they begin asking others. They think maybe someone might give them an answer to what they are seeking. They stop and ask Herod, who has no idea what they’re talking about. They listen to the advice of some local folk who are supposed to be in the know. The locals have heard of what they are seeking but do not know much more than that. And so they continue on with nothing more than a trust in that otherworldly light that keeps calling them on.
Eventually, they stumble upon what they figure they’ve been looking for all along. For them, it is the divine made flesh in human life, never before heard of or known. There is nothing they can compare it to. Some would call it a religious experience. To them, it is that and more. But do they tell anyone about it? Would anyone else understand? How do they describe it or put words around it? Yet it’s so powerful that it changes their lives. They decide to surrender all they have treasured in life – their gold and frankincense and myrrh, the tools of their trade as magicians.
They move on with their lives then. One can’t stay on the mountaintop forever. From that point on, their life journey takes a turn. They can’t go back to life the way they came. They have to be true to themselves, whether anyone understands or not. From that point on, it’s a different life.
The Feast of the Epiphany is a kind of ecumenical feast, a story of seekers listening to some inner call that propels them onward. For all of us, it seems to be something woven into the fabric of being human. Yet not everyone recognizes that yearning for what it is. Some seek it in the joy of possessions, others in substances that are no more than masked illusions of spiritual highs. Many seem to drift through life never really satisfied with what is yet sensing that there must be more though never finding that more.
The journey of the magi is in many ways the journey of being human, always seeking that one reality that seems to call us as if from some far-off light in the heavens.
Would you describe yourself as a seeker?
Have you ever had a religious experience?