“The star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognize and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ.“ ~ St. Leo the Great
a. A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
b. A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization
Now more than ever, there seems to be a greater search for meaning in the world in which we live. The search itself can come in various forms, and the depths in which these increased hordes of truth seekers carry out their pursuit is as vast and refined as an intricate mosaic.
Faith levels can at times vacillate even among the most devout in our midst, but finding God on one’s life tends to be a phenomenon that occurs along the faith journey, not necessarily at any preconceived destination. We live in a world of accomplishments, milestones, win/loss records and other assorted metrics; who's "trending" on Twitter as I type this? Yet the nurturing and development of one's faith doesn't abide by measurables. God continually reveals Himself in various forms and degrees. Those who eventually learn to "live beyond their fingertips" know that. This God’s desire for each of us and it‘s one of the defining elements of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord, a true cornerstone celebration of the Liturgical Year.
Many traditional Catholics do not take down their Christmas Trees until the day after the Epiphany in accordance with the true spirit and celebration of the 12 days of Christmas, further underlying the significance of this day. The Epiphany of the Lord essentially refers to the manifestation of God's presence in our human world, foreshadowing the kingdom of heaven in the process. The Magi were quintessential truth seekers, making that all-important journey to a distant land in an effort to cast their eyes on that which our current world cannot see in the truest, most literal sense of the word. Those who grapple with the notion of faith oftentimes struggle with this very concept; God's presence in the world must be sought out even though it certainly isn't hiding.
Those who favor the Midnight Christmas Eve Mass may have recognized the First Reading of the Epiphany (Isaiah 60:1-6) as this reading is traditionally read during the Midnight Celebration. In it Isaiah addresses those who are riding out the the Babylonian exile. They are tired, beleaguered, disillusioned and frustrated. Isaiah proclaims that their light has indeed come despite the darkness and ominous clouds that cover them, and with glorious images of the sea being emptied out before them, the wealth of nations being brought to them, not to mention caravans of camels at the ready, the prevailing question had to have been "what took you so long?" Throngs of people turning to the soothing comfort of God's words of hope at the moment of their darkest hour. Sound familiar?
In the Second Reading, Paul alludes to that very fact as he goes on to say "You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
The upshot: Gentiles are also called to be members in the body of Christ alongside their Jewish brothers and sisters. Theoretically speaking, one could look at this Letter to the Ephesians as the first attempt at interfaith dialog in the history of man. Fast forward to the year 2020. Have we made meaningful progress in that admittedly complex initiative?
As we embark on the early stages of the Year in Faith, what a great opportunity to re-visit Vatican II's Constitution on Divine Revelation. This Doctrine is for all intents and purposes the blueprint in understanding how God speaks to us. It's where mere faith takes the giant leap to discipleship through what I like to call a "communication covenant".
.........Wise Men Still Seek Him.
Come back next week. We have an important Baptism to celebrate.