Vision is what you wish to accomplish in life and mission is how you can accomplish it with core values as the guiding principles. The mission is useless without a vision; people often face confusion in life when their visions and missions are misguided. You could also have a vision and mission, but without core values, one could be overwhelmed by blunders. A life that is worth living should have a defined vision, a dynamic mission with functional core values.
Today is traditionally known as Epiphany; the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ to all nations represented by the wise men from the east. In the Second Reading, today (Eph.3:2-3a, 5-6), St. Paul notes that it is a revealed truth that the Gentiles are co-heirs of the promise.
The first visitors to the Nativity site wereShepherds and God directed their visit (Luke 1:15). They came with only one virtue; their faith in God. Seeing everything as the angels told them, they instantly became missionaries (Luke 1:16-17). Every divine encounter comes with some defined transformations. Our attention is directed to the wise men and particularly on their vision and mission.
- The Vision of the Wise Men.
Your vision defines your goals. The story of the wise men began with a description of their vision from their observation of the stars. Some people think of them as astrologers. In their observation, they could notice a great star in the skies. Beyond the sight, they understood the meaning; namely the birth of a great King.
The wise men left the comfort of their location with a vision; to worship the new born king. Their underlying intent was not their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; they could have sent messengers to deliver them. We can identify their vision in the question they asked at the palace of King Herod: “where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage?” Homage or worship motivated the journey of the wise men.
- The Mission of the Wise Men
The mission of the wise men encompasses their unchanging core values. First, we recognize their determination and commitment towards their vision. From the time, they saw the star to the moment they paid homage (worshiped) there was no respite. Their determination moved them to search for the new born King despite the oppositions on the way.
When they could no longer see the star, they were not discouraged. When Herod could not give them a reasonable information about the newborn King, they were not discouraged. They continued their search, and it ended in adoration (Matt. 2:11).
Wisdom comes from God (Proverbs 2:6). The visitors are wise not because they “tricked” Herod by not giving him feedback about the newborn child as he requested. They are not wise because of the gifts they offered; someone already gave a donation of a manger before they arrived. Their wisdom consists in their relentless search for the King of Kings to worship him. The highest thing we can offer to God is worship. The opening words of the Ten Commandments command sole worship of the God above all (Exodus 20:1-5).
The eastern visitors represent selflessness. True worship demands humility and humility consist in selflessness. They left everything to search for the Lord. They left all their commitments. For them, searching and finding the Lord to worship him is more important than any other preoccupation.
From the Mission of the wise men, we can see that there are two different types of people we could meet in life: destiny helpers and destiny killers. Often in life, we meet people who either help or hinder us. In the narrative, Herod represents destiny killers. Taking a critical look at the attitude of Herod to the visitors we discover a hindering spirit. We learn from the wise men that we need to be aware of the destructive hands of destiny killers and learn to keep our eyes on the goal.
Herod did not know about the birth of the new King. When the men of letters affirmed it from the writings of the prophet he decided to frustrate the wise men by asking them to go unaccompanied in their search. He also leaves them with an assignment to get back to him if they eventually find the child. A further confirmation of the evil mind of Herod was the infanticide he ordered after the exit of the wise men which led to the killing of innocent children.
Patience is a mission accessory we can identify in the story of the magi. Without patience, we have more pains. We need to wait for God’s leading presence and at the right moment. There is what is known as the perfect due season (Lv.26:4; Gal.6:9). We need to be patient and wait for God to act (Psalm 37:7). The men from the east were wise enough to know the value of patience even in the face of trials and challenges from the contending “Herods” in their mission.
The mission of the wise men exposes us to the power and value of humble submission to God. We learn from the narrative that they were instructed in a dream not to return to the destiny killer that goes with the name Herod. It takes humility to listen and to obey. God detests the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). It is also right to imagine that they humbly stayed the night with the newborn child and the parents in the domain of animals.
Celebrating the Solemnity of the Epiphany at the beginning of the calendar year is a gracious happenstance. We learn from the wise men great lessons that would help us to go beyond borders this New Year. We are challenged to formulate gainful visions and to inaugurate enduring mission values. We learn from the wise men the need to search for God above all things as those who seek the Lord shall find Him (Jer.29:13), and they will lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10).
Though we may have challenges on the way like the wise men, God will deliver us from them all (Psalm 34:19) and create chances for us. God will send destiny helpers (like the leading star) that will assist us to get to where we shall have enduring encounter will God. Sometimes, your star may seem to go off. Do not give up it will rise again and shine (Isaiah 60:1).
The solemnity of today also challenges us to launch our own respective “Epiphanies.” God manifested his son to the world as the King who will deliver us from the kingdom of darkness and transfer us into his marvelous light (1 Pet.2:9). We are challenged to show forth the goodness of God in our lives. We are challenged to reveal the love of God by searching for God in His words and the sacraments and as He promised to those who seek Him will find Him (Deut. 4:29). The solemnity today also challenges us to the sincere worship of God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). May the solemnity of the Epiphany bring about the inauguration of new and enduring divine encounters in our lives.
Happy Feast day and may you have a wonderful week ahead.