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Friday, 06 January 2023 18:21

Feast of The Epiphany - 2023

Fr Frank Gerry SVD 150In this feast of the Magi, the Church celebrates the welcoming of the nations to the scene of that first holy night: Mary, Joseph, and the child Jesus. There were the shepherds in the hills around Bethlehem and then there was the adventurous, the small group who came from afar with their camels and their gifts. This feast celebrates the welcoming of all to the mystery of Redemption, the graciousness of God reaching out to all. No one is excluded.

Christmas Nativity scene. Jesus, Mary, JosephThis story is not a ‘one-off’ event, as though we are just recalling something from the past, beautiful and majestic though it might be. This story says something about the human heart and what the heart can imagine and the resonances from afar that it can fell, which it doesn’t understand but can learn to trust and follow.

There is a place in our hearts that is open to mystery and this mystery entices us beyond the mundane and inconsequential to reach out in faith and hope, trusting that such a faith and hope cannot deceive.

The wise men saw a star in the heavens. But how were they able to interpret it as a star that would lead them to Christ? There must have been something in their own hearts that resonated with the message from the star. They are called magi from the East, as though the East is a special place on earth where wisdom can be found.

It is true that the word ‘East’ connotes a type of wisdom that comes from a certain part of our world; but ‘East’ also refers to the geography of the heart where wisdom is also to be found. In that place of wisdom in the heart we are at home with mystery, with what is plainly beyond us but the heart can intuit a Divine invitation to reach for more.

This is the story of the Magi!

I am trying to say that this story portrays in a very attractive form the human search for the divine and for salvation. If people follow this wisdom of their heart, they will find salvation. They may not as such find Christ in explicit Christian faith, but they will be saved.

We need to be faithful to this search. The journey through life is not without difficulty, for we can get sidetracked from our true heart and be mesmerized by visions that simply evaporate over time and leave us lost.

We can have our doubts or seasons when we seem to lose touch, as the magi did with their star, and we go searching in the wrong direction. We pray that Providence and the Spirit will guide us back to what the heart knows to be true. It will lead to discoveries about life and its hidden gifts and beauty that will astound us, like to experience of the Magi.

They recognised a Saviour hidden in humility, in the frailty and vulnerability of a child. They paid homage and offered what gifts they had brought.

That’s all we know but it is enough!

In our own journey through life and journey to our true self, may we too be wise enough to do homage before our frailty and vulnerability, to acknowledge that God can be there present to save us.

In conclusion, let me share with you some quotes from the Wisdom Literature of the Bible, from the sage, Ben Sirach:

Establish the counsel of your own heart, for no one is more faithful to you than it is. 

For a man’s soul sometimes keeps him better informed than seven watchmen sitting high on a watch tower.                                                                                                                                                       

And besides all this

pray to the Most High that He may direct your way in truth 

(Sirach, 37:13-15).

This Feast of the Epiphany, of the Magi, tells a story that invites us into a world of grace clothed in the simple and the ordinary; but the heart is able to discern the deeper reality of what is really there. Such is our life! 

May we learn to trust the intuitions of our own heart.