For the past week, I have been in the Palisades, south of Seattle, Washington, giving a retreat to a group of bishops. We just wrapped up with the celebration of Mass for the Solemnity of Epiphany. It has been a lot of work, but as is the case with God, there is always a grace and reward to those willing to make a gift of themselves for others.
One of the graces of this week – and there have been many – has been the ability to gaze upon the stars within the clear sky, every night except last night. I could lie in bed and gaze up through my window at the stars. Such practice has always lifted my heart and should towards the heavens. It is such an uplifting and hope-filled experience. I cannot wait to see the Northern Lights for the first time!
I thought this was such a beautiful way to prepare for today’s celebration of the Epiphany! This day in which we recall the Three Kings: those three Celestial Searchers, who looked to the heavens, to find their way on earth, only to discover the King of the Universe!
Isn’t this indeed what we all must do – look to the heavens? – to the Christ Child – to find our way on this earthly pilgrimage – to our true home in heaven?!
In their wisdom, they searched – for something beyond mere provisions of the earth – indeed they searched for the One who provisioned the earth itself. That is true wisdom!
With the knowledge that was theirs, yet without bias, or agenda, or stinginess of truth, they searched, for the answer to life’s mysteries, only to gaze upon the Christ Child and find all the answers to their questions by embracing the Mystery of God.
We as every human being are on a similar search. We look for more than this world can offer; relationships and love, surely; the basics of human sustenance, absolutely; but our search is for the Origin of all these good things. But for the human heart to make the discovery of the wise men, it must search!
Perhaps the darkness of the world is a pre-requisite for those who are not inclined to search. For darkness leaves on, perhaps even requires one to search for only one things – LIGHT! Even the darkness of the world will lead to the manger of Bethlehem, to the Child of Light and Peace!
For those who are inclined to search, instruction comes from the most unexpected place and person. It is Herod, of all people, of all people, who tells the world the one thing that is needed, ill-intentioned as he was:
Go and search diligently for the child.
Those who are inclined to search for this child will not be disappointed. For we can proclaim as St. Paul in today’s reading for the Letter to the Ephesians: “the mystery was made known to me/us. Perhaps this mystery is not made known to others simply because they do not search, being content with what the world has to offer.
My brothers [bishops] we have received the revelation. We have met Christ. We know him, and we know his love, his mercy, and redemption.
Christ now calls us “the Light of the world” because we have accepted his call and believed in Him.
Christ now calls us “the Salt of the earth” because he has shared with us his Word, his Life, and his Wisdom.
As the Psalmist says: (Psalm 96), we are commissioned:
to proclaim his help day be day, to tell among the nations his glory, and his wonders among all the people.
Please, God, may it be so!