Posted January 06, 2022
Happy Epiphany! Today the Church celebrates the three kings’ illuminating discovery of Jesus after His birth. Here’s a refresher of the kings’ visit to Jesus:
In ancient times, it was believed that a new star appeared when a ruler was born, so when the three kings – also known as the Wise Men or the Magi – noticed a star rising, they were sent by King Herod to find the Child so that he, too, “may go and do him homage” (Matthew 2:8). Little did they know, Herod did not have good intentions and actually wanted to do just the opposite of pay Jesus homage. After following the North Star for 12 days through the desert, the three kings found Jesus and worshipped Him. They gave Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh: riches that showed honor and respect for such a ruler. And then, because God had warned them in a dream, the Magi traveled home by another route to escape Herod.
So on this Feast of the Epiphany, what can the three kings teach us?
After their journey through the desert, we can only imagine how joyous the Magi must have been to see the Child Jesus! Through their respect, they not only gave Him earthly presents: they gave the gift of themselves to Him. The Wise Men show us that when we focus on God, long journeys and sacrifices are not burdensome, but rather joyous. After all, when we give of ourselves (our time, advice, hard work, possessions, our presence, etc), we allow God to use us as an instrument of love. And well, since we were made by Love and for Love, this humble giving of self leads to freedom and joy!
When the Wise Men were told through a dream to stay away from Herod, they listened to God’s voice and went home a different way. Maybe they feared that Herod would find and kill them if they did not return or maybe, confidence and trust in God prevented them from that fear. No matter how they were feeling, the Wise Men knew they had to protect Jesus. They remind us to stay attune to the Holy Spirit so that we can courageously flee from evil and protect what is good, even if it means we will have to endure suffering or even risk our lives.
Maybe it was gold, frankincense, or myrrh a long time ago… but maybe your prized possessions include something more like a diamond ring, an iPhone, or an expensive car. Or, maybe you are just happy to have a little food and some temporary shelter. The Wise Men remind us that whatever your most valued possessions are, they are not as important as being possessed by God. Don’t worry… you don’t have to get rid of your iPhone or that nice car. God gives us these earthly riches as a way to glorify His goodness. The point is, we should not be too attached to our earthly possessions because it can be easy to make an idol out of them, taking us away from the truly important things (and people) in life. If God calls us to give something up out of love for Him and others, we should be pleased to do so. The value of love and sacrifice for the benefit of others surpasses the value of earthly items. God – who is Love – brings fulfillment!
Notice how the Wise Men reacted to the star, “And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star” (Matthew 2: 9-10). The Wise Men were overjoyed at this beautiful and radiant light. God’s grace is like that star in the night sky. In a world full of evil and trial, we must seek God and His grace to journey on the path to love and freedom, and ultimately: Heaven. Seek the light in the dark, and embrace it when you find it. It is light that allows us to see more clearly.
May your day be blessed as you meditate on the goodness of the Wise Men, and once again, Happy Epiphany!