The feast of the Epiphany is marked by the visit of the three wise men who saw a star in the East and journeyed in search of the Saviour. When they found him, they worshipped him and offered him gifts. For us Christians, this feast is extremely significant. It propels us to ask the question of whether we are wise or not. Are we searching for Jesus in every situation, event, person, relationship, occupation, interest, place, etc. The wise most certainly would.
The Magi saw a bright star in the East, the sign, and then journeyed in darkness until they reached Bethlehem, where the star reappeared. There are similarities in this story and our lives.
When we start off in search, whether it be career, Christianity, vocation, or follow any interest, it is because we are attracted by some bright light – bright ideal or vision or hope. Like the Magi, this is just the sign and does not remain in our sky. We must search in darkness, in times when we do not understand, in times when the way seems unsure, in times when there are so many challenges, in times when there are so much betrayal, deceit, and power struggle, in times when the road is rough and tough. The dark clouds of life will block out the bright light in our sky at times. We may just get an occasional glimpse to keep us going. The Epiphany tells us do not be surprised when this happens and do not get discouraged. We must imitate the Magi and keep moving on. We must not be too proud to ask for guidance. We must persevere until the bright guiding light appears in our lives again. We must struggle to find Jesus in the life of each human person and situation.
The Magi worshipped Jesus and offered him gifts. As we struggle to find Jesus in each human person and contemplate the various faces of Christ in each person, we must offer our love to him. As we offer our love, he will open up the treasures of goodness that lies buried inside each one of us, so that we can offer our gifts to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are poor and live in the stables of life. Each human person was created as a gift to another person. At different times we will be special gifts to different people. We must always strive to be a gift to each person we encounter. No one should be insignificant in our lives, not even the person we pass on the street each day. Such a person might be Jesus and we may never find him because we are too judgemental, too self-righteous, full of false pride and ego, generally too exclusive and caught up with the secular world of materialism.
The Church celebrates this feast with great solemnity because of its all-inclusive nature. The fact that the wise men were not Jews showed that Jesus came for all, Catholic and non-Catholic; Christian and non-Christian. All will experience salvation through Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are called to live out our mandate of being inclusive. We are to create sacred space for each person. The Church must be a place for people to bloom and grow and explore the talents and gifts for the sake of the kingdom. Archbishop Gilbert called in Synod’s homily, “get more people involved”. We can only heed such as a call when we see Jesus in each human person and by virtue of their dignity create a sacred space for them to live and be. We must establish sacred relationships with each human being.
‘True liberation is freeing people from the bonds that have prevented them from giving their gifts to others’ (Henri Nouwen). Like Jews, we Christians, become proud and egoistical because of the positions we hold in the Church and so we erect barriers to keep out the “gentiles” of our society. We need to pray to experience the beauty of the Epiphany where we search and encounter Jesus in each person and situation. If we live this way, united with the Holy Spirit, we will be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Messiah, and Saviour.
Let us pray:
Lord, help us not to extend our hands to our neighbours in superficial ways and at the same time exclude them from our hearts. Lord, help us not to speak to our neighbours on the cold, doorstep of life and never invite them into the warm interior. Lord, remove the fear in our hearts that cause us not to enter into a deep encounter with our neighbour and in so doing block you out. Lord, grant us warm and accepting hearst, where we will continuously search for you in our brothers and sisters and where we may enjoy peace and unity of your Kingdom where you live for ever and ever. Amen – Bernadette Ramkhelawan