Those who are born in the age of GPS navigation and google map may not appreciate what it means to search for someone in an unfamiliar location. When there were no telephones and instant messaging systems, people travel long distances to search for family, friends, relations, and other potential acquaintances believing that they would be lucky to meet whomsoever they seek. Some get positive outcome while others either miss the people or hear that they passed.
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany means manifestation, and in the context of this feast day, it means the manifestation of the newborn King to the entire world outside the land of Israel through the wise men from the east. From the Gospel narrative today (Matt. 2:1-12), we learn that the magi saw a great star from their location and they could tell that it indicates the birth of the king of the Jews and they followed the lead.
The Epiphany Star and The Journey to The Lord
The magnificent star in the narrative deserves our reflective thoughts. In our day and age, it reminds us of a compass, GPS, or google map navigation. But more than these, it is a divine statement. The wise men discovered the star and could understand what it represents. In their reflective thoughts, they could relate the appearance of the star to the oracle of the prophet Micah (5:2) which says:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.
The star led the wise men to Jerusalem, and suddenly, they could not see it again, and that was why they had to consult with King Herod supposing that he would be aware of the birth of the king of the Jews. King Herod was unwise and foolish. He had no clue about the birth of Jesus Christ because he was not attentive to the signs of the time and lacked the knowledge of the scriptures. King Herod was foolish to ask the wise men to go unaccompanied to search for the newborn king and to come back to tell him so that he could go and do him homage. However, we know he intended to kill the child because he thought that his throne would be under threat.
A very vital event in the journey of the magi to the Lord was when they could no longer see the star. We could notice here that they did not give up in their search. The disappearance of the star could be a potential reason to give up and to return to their homes. Sometimes in our lives, we feel the absence of some “stars” in our lives. It could be during sickness, grief, affliction, hardship, or when we have struggles of all kinds. Those moments we seem to see more reason to give up than to live up.
The Diligent Search for The Lord
Despite his foolishness and his selfish interest, King Herod asked the wise men secretly to search diligently for the child and to bring word to him when they could find him. The diligent search for the Lord strikes us here more than anything Herod said to the magi. From the statement above, we understand that a search could be diligent, that is active, committed, and thorough or lazy and passive.
Life is synonymous with searching; we are often in the “search mood.” People search for a house, school, job, life partners, happiness, etc. We don’t stop searching even when we find, another search starts. Often what we search for the wrong things, while we gloss over the search for what we need.
The search for the Lord is the ultimate and most enduring search. The Word of God (Isaiah 29:13) says that those who search for the Lord will find Him if they search Him with all their hearts; that is with diligence. Do we not often put our diligent search on the wrong things instead of on the search for the Lord? Life is short, and we can get the best from the Lord if we continue to search for Him with apt diligence in our lives, in others and in the Word of God and the sacraments.
What do we do when we find the Lord? Let us go back to the Gospel narrative on what the magi did when they eventually found the newborn king (Matt. 2:11),
And on entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The first action of the magi before the newborn king is adoration and wholehearted worship. It is always pleasing to God when we give him the homage and adoration that is due to Him. The first commandment tells us that we should worship the Lord God alone (Exodus 20:2-6). The Book of Psalms (29:2), says, “ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” There is nothing that pleases God as true worship (John 4:24).
The second action of the magi was the presentation of gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The value of these gifts should not be measured from their market rating but from the hearts that made the donations. When we give God total worship, we invariably make a total donation of ourselves. The gifts of the magi are but an outward sign of their inward self-donation.
When we give ourselves entirely to God, He gets back to us with blessings. The First Reading (Isaiah 60:1-6) told us that light of God manifested upon them and covered them with His glory. The wise men left the presence of the Lord wiser and more enriched. Today, we are making our epiphany experience before the Lord. If we have diligently searched and found him, what do we have as offering to him?
The magi left the comfort of their location to search for the Lord, and they found Him despite the challenges on the way. We need to move from our comfort zones, especially in this New Year so that we can walk the talk and get to encounter the Lord in a new and profound way.
Happy feast of Epiphany and may God manifest His power and might in our lives as we search and find Him. God bless you!