Just a word… Feast of the Epiphany…
Just a word… Feast of the Epiphany… January 3, 2021
I don’t know about you, but the Feast of the Epiphany, with its story of the Magi, the mysterious star, and the exotic and symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, appeals to my imagination. There is an ancient Persian legend that posits an interesting slant on their visit to the stable, or the cave, in which Jesus was born. The three came to worship, to be sure, and to offer gifts, but I wonder, whom did each of the Magi meet when they entered that stable in Bethlehem?
Perhaps a young Balthazar encountered a growing Jesus, full of promise and idealism; Caspar would find a middle-aged teacher, who might discuss leadership and responsibility; and Melchior, the oldest of the visitors, might have met the Christ of understanding and compassion. I imagine that on their journey home by a different route, having exercised their collective wisdom in perceiving the threat that was Herod, conferred with one another in amazement at the marvelous diversity of their experiences.
Whom do you meet as you come here today? What call do you hear? The young might hear a call to find their own way to God. The middle-aged could be answering a beckoning to responsibility and service. And those of us who are of a more mature age might be hearing a summons to integrity and wisdom. How will we respond to these calls of ours?
Our readings today offer us some advice: be open to the new, the different, the untried, the stranger. Openness to others seems to be essential to being a follower of Christ. Because God intends that all will be partners, co-heirs, equally sharing in the promise of salvation, differences are to be respected, not merely tolerated.
The Magi, in addition to giving us the insight that the Lord speaks to every human being at every stage of life, came bearing gifts for the child. What will our gifts be? Each of us has to answer that question for ourselves, but for my part I will defer to my favorite Christmas song… James Taylor, singing “In the Bleak Midwinter,” the last verse of which goes:
“What then can I give Him, empty as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man, I would know my part.
What then can I give Him?
I must give my heart.”