“Where is the newborn King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2)
Right before I sat down to write this homily, I got called to visit a dying parishioner. My homily was about searching for the Divine, particularly about the search of the Magi, and here I was standing before a child of God who was about to encounter the Divine. All of us are on a life long search for the transcendent, and this soul, so close to death, was about to come face to face with the same God that the Magi encountered in Bethlehem under that star.
We spend our lives waiting to encounter God. We spend our lives searching for joy, peace, fulfillment, and more often than not we go searching in all the wrong places. The Magi no doubt searched until the day the star appeared and it is that search, and that openness to that search, that ultimately leads them to finding the Christ Child.
The beginning of this New Year affords us the opportunity to take up that search anew. Perhaps we have been stuck in neutral (or reverse) when it comes to our spiritual life. Perhaps we have abandoned the search all together. Today’s Solemnity of the Epiphany is a wake up call to seek out the living God who comes to make all things new. Each of us has a longing for the transcendent, for something new, and all our answers lie here in this manger. Unfortunately, sin squashes that search for something beyond us. Epiphany by its very definition means a sudden revelation or insight. Once we open our eyes to see this sudden revelation and behold that we don’t have to search for very long to find the living God, our lives are immediately transformed.
This past Thursday, in his Epiphany homily Pope Francis concluded: “The Magi experienced longing; they were tired of the usual fare. They were all too familiar with, and weary of, the Herods of their own day. But there, in Bethlehem, was a promise of newness, of gratuitousness. There something new was taking place. The Magi were able to worship, because they had the courage to set out. And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.”
It is indeed a New Year. We are indeed tired of the old and familiar and are longing for something new. Our search ends here at the manger as it did for the Magi. As the Holy Father said, may we have the courage to “set out.” A friend of mine tweeted last night, “Do not ask God to guide your footsteps if you’re not willing to move your feet.” We must ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of courage to be able to seek out the God who calls us to newness of life. The star of Bethlehem has indeed risen. May we follow that star like the Magi and be transformed into something new that reflects the very glory of God.