"On the Solemnity of Epiphany the Church continues to contemplate and to celebrate the mystery of the birth of Jesus the Savior. In particular, this day stresses the universal destination and significance of this birth.
By becoming man in Mary's womb, the Son of God did not only come for the People of Israel, represented by the Shepherds of Bethlehem, but also for the whole of humanity, represented by the Magi. And it is precisely on the Magi and their journey in search of the Messiah (cf. Mt 2:1-12) that the Church invites us to meditate and pray today.
They were men in search of something more, in search of the true light that could point out the path to take in life.
Perhaps the way to become better acquainted with these Magi and to understand their desire to let themselves be guided by God's signs is to pause to consider what they find on their journey, in the great city of Jerusalem.
First of all they met King Herod. He was certainly interested in the Child of which the Magi spoke; not in order to worship him, as he wished to make them believe by lying, but rather to kill him. Herod was a powerful man who saw others solely as rivals to combat. So God himself had to be clouded over and people had to be reduced to mere pawns to move on the great chessboard of power.
The Magi then meet the scholars, the theologians, the experts who know everything about the Sacred Scriptures, who are familiar with the possible interpretations, who can quote every passage of it since they know it by heart and are therefore of valuable assistance to those who choose to walk on God's path.
However, St Augustine says, they like being guides to others, they point out the way; but they themselves do not travel, they standstock-still. For them the Scriptures become a sort of atlas to be perused with curiosity, a collection of words and concepts for study and for learned discussion.
And so we come to the star. What kind of star was the star the Magisaw and followed?...the Magi also knew that it is not with any kind of telescope but rather with the profound eyes of reason in search of the ultimate meaning of reality and with the desire for God, motivated by faith, that it is possible to meet him, indeed, becomes possible for God to come close to us.
The star then guided them to Bethlehem, a little town; it led them among the poor and the humble to find the King of the world.
God's criteria differ from human criteria. God does not manifest himself in the power of this world but in the humility of his love, the love that asks our freedom to be welcomed in order to transform us and to enable us to reach the One who is Love." (Pope Benedict XVI)
Finding him, the King of Kings, the Word Incarnate, a little child named Jesus, they give him everything, their treasures, Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
Where are we in our journey to Jesus? Does Herod have the upper hand in our lives - struggling to keep control and not let Jesus take over?
Are the scholars in charge - complacent, static, unmoving, happy with the way things are, happy to go to Mass without ever meeting Jesus?
Are our Three Wise Men in charge - adventurers, seekers, yearning to meet him? Are we ready to give up, daily, what does not lead to him, and seek in the darkness of prayer and simplicity and silence the one bright star on a dark night, the infant King?
It is good, therefore, to ponder the meaning of the very last words in today's Gospel narrative: "...and having received a message in a dream, they returned home a different way." When we meet the Lord Jesus at Mass, may we always return home, different.
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona