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With the death and subsequent funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict, we continue our time of mourning for losing such a great soul, but with the sure and certain hope that the Lord is welcoming him home. He will be remembered for his strong faith, keen intellect and constant desire to do God’s will in his life. May he rest in peace. He is able to see clearly now what he always longed for, the face of God, who reveals himself to us in many veiled ways while we are on earth. Today, the feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate the appearance to the world of God incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ.
Yes, Jesus was first manifested at the annunciation to Mary and later to Joseph in a dream. He was manifested at his birth when Jewish shepherds made haste to greet him in the manger of Bethlehem. But today, the world comes to meet him in the persons of the Magi.
Who were the Magi? There are different opinions. Some say they were philosophers or “wise men.” Others say that they were stargazers, astronomers, or maybe even astrologers. Certainly, tradition represents them as kings; after all, we sing, “We three Kings. Perhaps they came from Persia, modern-day Iran. There are many unknowns about the magi.
Yet we can say for certain that they were seekers of the truth. Whether philosophers or astronomers, or even astrologers, they were looking for answers. In their quest for the newborn king, we can also say that they had not yet come to the end of their search. That is why they left their homeland on their final search for answers, for truth, for God. They found what they were always looking for when they “saw the child with Mary his mother,” knelt down before him and did him homage with gifts that included frankincense, an offering made to God.
As travelers in an ancient world, they must have faced significant dangers in order to continue on their journey to Jesus. They would have faced bad weather, the constant threat of robbers, the dangers of the rugged Middle Eastern terrain, and Herod — who wanted to co-opt them for his own nefarious motives, but they would not be diverted or dissuaded. They kept following the star until they found the child it pointed to, and in them, these outsiders, non-Jewish travelers to Bethlehem, the Messiah was announced outside of Israel to the world. To us!
Now, we have all come to know Jesus as the Messiah, our savior, but the journey continues to know him more deeply, love him more dearly, and follow him more closely. There are many obstacles that the devil places in our way including doubts, fears, friends who ridicule our practice of our faith, and people who try to co-opt our religion for their more nefarious motives. Let us stay the course. Let us follow the star of our faith. Let us continue on the journey deeper into our relationship with Jesus Christ.
He is the answer to our questions about the meaning of life, the purpose of our existence, and our final end - Heaven itself. He is the one who was born to set us free from our sins, adds a bit of light to our darkness, and leads us to our eternal home.
He has made his epiphany to us, manifested himself and appeared to us. The Magi saw him in the child of Bethlehem. We see him in so many ways too: in the poor, in our sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist of his real presence, and, just as the Magi did, let us offer gifts to our Lord. Let us give ourselves to him wherever we find him.
Have a blessed week everyone.