“We three Kings of Orient are”; the three Wise Men; the magi—they are called by several names but had the same purpose—to find the newborn king of the Jews.
Epiphany is the feast of inclusion—a celebration for humanity. The magi were not Jewish; they were foreigners. We are usually suspicious of folks who are different from us. When we do not understand customs, or religions, or nationalities we tend to keep our distance. “They are weird.” “Those people smell bad.” “People should stay in their own country.” Given the global situation of unrest—paranoia is at an all time high. We shoot first; ask questions later. Unfortunately, fear is not unique to our time. The magi encountered fearful people on their journey. They had to get past King Herod, who was afraid of his own shadow. He was afraid of loosing his power, of being overthrown, defeated by a baby. Obviously his popularity ratings were not that high. Guards, food tasters, priests that worried him—such was the atmosphere in the palace the day that the magi arrived in Jerusalem. Since the magi were not poor in order to have traveled a long distance, given the size of their caravans, considering their rich clothing—they also posed a threat to King Herod. He didn’t want them to stay long. He did what any of us would do with unwelcomed company: “So sorry, you have to go. Thanks for coming.” He 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.” Although they were later warned in a dream, they could sense, “This guy is a real looser! He’s not interested in anybody except himself.” People who are generous can sense when they meet people who are greedy. The magi and King Herod were opposites.
Remember that King Herod was a Jew. The message of the Gospel is not about following a religion, but about being led by faith. So often we are tempted to think that doing the right things, saying the right prayers, going on retreats will lead us to Christ. We forget that our life is not about doing but more about being—having an open heart—trusting the journey experience. That’s what the magi had to do—they had to trust unchartered territory. There was no GPS—no Google maps—not even an old fashion paper map—there was only a star—a little inner voice that said—keep going—you’re on the right track.
Very spooky when we think about it. We like to know exactly what is going to happen. Majority of us do not welcome surprises, especially when they are unpleasant. But that’s like living in a bubble. Life is full of surprises. The more that we learn to embrace them—the good and the bad—the more that we will savor the journey of life. Just like the magi were inconvenienced, we too might find pain along the way. In risking getting out of their comfort zone, the magi found the Lord. If we stay in the bubble of security, seeing only the people we like, we might feel safe, but we might miss out on the adventure of the fullness of life—an Epiphany of the Lord. Jesus is usually where we least expect Him. The magi brought the gold, frankincense, and myrrh—gifts appropriate for a king—but they received much more. They received the beauty of the journey—which is priceless. How can we put a price tag on our life—even on the painful moments? What can we offer to God for every day that we have lived? Two steps forward and three steps backwards. The good times and the not so good times—as long as we don’t give up. Follow the star—trust the star.
Faith is the necessary requirement—nothing else matters. We walk by faith.