This story would crack you up. A woman is busy searching for something in her living room when her mobile phone rings. She picks and without looking at the caller she says, rather rudely, “can I call you back? I am searching for my mobile phone”. The caller responds immediately, “common mom! That is your mobile phone that I am calling”. So, the point is that the woman held her mobile phone in her hand while still searching for it!
Most of us are not different from the woman in the short story. There is hardly any day we do not search for things, including unnecessary ones. We constantly search for phones, wallets, remote, keys, documents, and other things. Writing in the New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz maintains that, on average, we spend six solid months of our lives searching for things around us.
Another dimension of searching has to do with the things that are external to us. For example, people search for directions to locations, events, jobs, entertainment, friendship, businesses, and other items, including our daily internet searches.
The Magi and the Newborn King
Today we reflect on one of the most significant search adventures in the scriptures; the search for the newborn King by the magi (wise men) from the east. The Gospel of Matthew (2:1-12) tells us that soon after the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea, magi (wise men) came from the east searching to see the infant and to do him homage.
They had seen his star rising from their location and followed the direction. But coming closer, the star disappeared. They sought to inquire from Herod, presuming he could know what they saw from a long distance, but Herod had no clue. So, Herod consulted the chief priest and scribes to discover the scripture about the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.
Herod was not pleased with the news and had a secret plan to kill the child, but God knows the secrets in our hearts (Psalm 44:21). So, Herod sent the magi with an instruction that would serve as the point of departure for our reflection: “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage”.
The Diligent Search for Christ
It would be very easy to notice the wickedness of Herod and his secret plan to kill the newborn King. Still, from an insightful perspective, we can see that Herod’s instruction (not his intention) encouraged the magi to continue searching for Christ. Significantly, this could be a great instruction for us in our day and age, especially at the dawn of the New Year.
The narrative tells us that the magi continued the search for the messiah upon that Herod’s instruction. Consequently, the star they saw earlier reappeared and led them to the birthplace where they did him homage (adored) and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh from their treasures.
Herod had a secret plan to kill the newborn King, but he also has a great message for us from that instruction to the magi to search diligently for Christ. The truth is that God can still speak to us through anyone, even the most wicked and godless like Herod.
Moving Forward: Diligent Search and Gracious Finding
Nobody fails to find while searching for the Lord with the full commitment of the heart (Jeremiah 29:13). After their diligent search, the magi saw the child and the parents, which could have been over a long time. The reappearance of the magnificent star was evidence of the strength of their ultimate search.
The message to search for Christ diligently comes to us at the most needful time, the dawn of a New Year! The search for excellence and various levels of achievement in the coming year without a corresponding search for Christ may lead us to a colossal crisis.
How do we search for Christ in our day and age? The magi sought to see the Lord in Bethlehem, and they found him using the star as the radar. Nobody expects us to head to Bethlehem today to search for the Lord. However, it is a lot easy for us now. We can search for the Lord by following his ordinances and statues in our hearts and souls (Deuteronomy 26:16).
We search for the Lord in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, where he is really and substantially present. Even the Lord encouraged us to seek him constantly at the table of the eucharist when he said, “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
We also search for the Lord in the scriptures, which stands as the manual of the Christian life. So, St. Paul writing to Timothy, says, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The word of God remains our light and enlightenment (Psalm 119:130).
What do we give to the Lord when we find him? The magi gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The only thing the Lord requires us to give is love. Specifically, loving Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).
The epiphany of the Lord celebrates his manifestation to all nations represented by the wise men from the east. The important lesson here is that the Lord is manifested to those who come searching for him. That means there would never be a divine manifestation without intentional human locomotion. Those who seek the Lord shall find, and they are wise who do so!
God bless you and have a blessed New Year.