Recently, as I stood still in my yard, looking up at the sky, I saw the moon and nearby there was a solitary and very brilliant star. It was mesmerizing. It reminded me of a time when one of my children was far away and sometimes when we spoke on the phone, we would go outside and stare at the sky realizing that we both saw the same star; even though we were in different locations and different time zones. We felt very connected by this common unifying experience. The fact that it was so strong and constant was very inspiring and reassuring. That star has been in the constellation for thousands of years and will be for many years to come.
The Gospel reading from Matthew 2 :1-12 provides us with the only account of the three Magi following the star. These men were probably familiar with astronomy and looked to the sky for their direction and navigational support. Any unusual phenomenon or planetary movement would be quickly observed by them. They were somewhat familiar with the prophecy in Isaiah (9:1) that “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” and took the signs as a way to start on their quest. Their eventual encounter with Jesus reveals that Jesus came as salvation for all Jews and Gentiles the world over.
It was a long journey of months, even years covering difficult terrain and challenging weather to finally arrive at their destination; their perseverance and determination to find what they were looking for paid off. Their journey was not focused on seeking fame, fortune, breaking a world record or finding the latest tourist attraction. They were searching for God. The star stopped and stood still above a humble stable where the Saviour of the world, the Child Jesus lay. They found what they were looking for!
For those who are on the journey to find God, there are many signs available to guide us to our Savior. We need to be vigilant and discern the directions that are in our midst. Where will we find God? On a daily basis, God reveals himself to us and our mission. Each day, we need to seek and focus on God’s revelation and actively leave the comfort of our lives to pursue God’s will for us. We will find God in prayer, in Scriptures, in church, in nature, in the faces of those we love and in the eyes of the poor and strangers. The lives of the Saints and witness of holy people, as well as our faith communities provide other opportunities to grow in our faith. If we seek, we shall find.
Just as our life is a journey, so too is our spiritual life. It is not static; it is not dormant and requires action and progress. Like the Magi, we may encounter difficulties, obstacles, confusion and resistance along the way but with persistence, we will find what we are looking for: Jesus, the Light of the world. There are costs along this journey as well since the Magi had to change the route of their departure for their own safety and the safety of the vulnerable, innocent Child that was seen by King Herod as a threat. They were changed and they went home in a different way differently.
The Magi brought three gifts for this Holy Child. The gift of gold to symbolize the royalty of this Child, the gift of frankincense to acknowledge His Divinity and myrrh to foreshadow His suffering and death. This is possibly where our practice of giving gifts originated. Many traditions open gifts at the time of the Epiphany and not Christmas day.
What is the best gift that you have ever received? What made it so special? What are the best gifts that you can bring to God?
There is the mystery as to what drew these wise men and their gifts to this special Child throughout history? Mankind has been searching for God forever and yet here, we see the Christ Child revealing both His humanity and divinity. For us all to discover over and over again.
The beautiful Christmas Carol “We Three Kings” is meaningful all year round.