January 7, 2018
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi
The billions of people walking the face of the earth can be divided into 3 groups. That’s right, three groups.
There are those who are seeking God and who find God. Group #1. Group 2 are those who are seeking God but who have not yet found God. Finally, the 3rd group of people are those who are not seeking God at all and do not find Him.
Those in Group #2 eventually find God and move into Group #1, but the 3rd group of people wander the face of the earth, forgetting why they are here, that they have come from God and are meant to return to God, and all of life is meant to be a journey home.
The Magi on this joy-filled Feast of the Epiphany remind us why we are here — to seek and find God. The strangers from the East, who don’t even have names, show us what life’s all about—a journey fueled by the desire of finding the King of Kings, the Light of the World, the One who brings meaning to life itself.
Though the Scriptures do not use the adjective “wise” in describing these travelers, their actions bespeak a wisdom we can all learn from. We want to be “wise” like them, so our searching will result in discovering the Son of God, so we may know him, love him, and serve Him in this world in order to gain entrance to the next.
The evangelist Matthew does not tell us how many wise men make this journey from their home country to a foreign land looking for the new-born king. We have always labeled them as the “3 Wise Men” because of the three gifts which they present to the Christ-child. However, we don’t know the exact number, but what we do know, is that there is no such thing as a “wise man” in this story, only “wise men.”
Wisdom flourishes in the company of others, while folly flowers in solitary endeavors. Those who are wise do not “go it alone” while those who are foolish act as if they can do it all alone, and end up lost, lost, lost!
The ongoing journey of faith, this adventure of seeking the Lord, can only be done fruitfully in the company of other seekers, of other folks of faith. We join others in the quest, and together we find our way forward.
When we go it alone in our faith journey, without the help of a community of faith, we not only stumble around and end up going in circles and getting nowhere, but we also find ourselves mired in the mud of discouragement.
Wisdom loves company, because wise men and wise women urge each other onward, especially when the journey is hard and difficult and the temptation is to give-up or give-in. Others carry us forward when our hearts are broken and our hopes dashed, and we carry them in return.
Together, the wise men are able to finish their journey, to reach their goal, to find their heart’s desire, the child of promise, the newborn King. Those who seek the Lord, who long to discover Him and know Him better, do so with others, never alone.
Those who are wise also are humble, which means they know what they do not know. Those who are wise are humble enough to stop and ask for directions, to ask for help. Those who are wise know they do not know it all and are unafraid to admit their ignorance and ask for what they need.
The wise men in the Epiphany story ask for directions while lost in Jerusalem. Now I know it may be hard for some of you women to believe this, but these men do not go wandering all over Israel looking for the newborn King, afraid to admit they are lost, but instead ask for directions.
This is a real journey with doubts and dangers, wrong turns, and times of feeling lost. But these wise men are wise because they do not hesitate to inquire of others who may know more than they do, to seek advice.
Their journey is meant to encourage us to persevere in our search for the King. Many of us set out on the journey of life with a great dream and a bright future, only to have it all disappear or collapse in tragedy. Things and unexpected events get in the way, like clouds hiding the sun. Some of us lose not only our way but also our self-confidence or doubts arise and we think we are losing our faith. When that happens, the truly wise seek the guidance of others. They ask for directions.
What we share when we tell this Gospel story is a message of hope that the darkness will pass, and that by having the humility to ask and seek direction, we shall come into Christ’s radiant presence. By having the wisdom to ask and seek direction, coupled with an unwavering commitment to life’s journey toward Christ, we shall come into His glorious presence.
Which brings us to the final lesson on wisdom which these Gospel travelers teach us. Those who are wise bring gifts to give to Jesus.
What gifts are we prepared to share with Jesus this year?
What gifts is He asking us to give him joyfully and generously?