The recent feast of the Epiphany tells of Magi bearing gifts being led to a King by a star and, just as a star has 5 points, so too this story carries 5 points for us to keep in mind as well.
First, the Magi represent the fact that God’s loving welcome is extended to all people from all backgrounds. After all, did they not come from different lands far away to adore the newborn King? While the Bible makes it clear that the Jews are God’s chosen people, it often reminds us, through the work and words of St. Paul as well as this instance, that God is there for all of us, without distinction. We must remember this when injustice, intolerance, and inclusion are terms so often thrown around for political and social convenience. Many wishing to twist God’s Word to include various questionable behaviors often argue that God is about unity and unconditional love, which is true up to a point. While God wants us to join together on the road to salvation, He is still the ultimate Divine and Just Judge who will apply distinction, differentiation, and contrast to separate the Just from the condemned. As often happens, those who preach a God of total unity and no distinction are merely manipulating God’s Word for their agenda. God is about unity and unconditional love going in, but He is also about Just Distinction, Divine Justice, and tough love going on. God is here for all of us, but that does not mean that He will not apply Divine Justice and Distinction when dealing with each of us moving forward!
Second, the Magi came bearing gifts, which is what we each must do. Our gifts are really the interest on God’s investment in each of us. He has given each of us certain talents and missions, and it is our duty to identify and fulfill those gifts by using them to serve God, thus bearing interest which we must then return to Him when the time comes for us to present our efforts in this enterprise of serving Him in this world. Many people use the bounty of God’s gifts only for personal or worldly gain, with no concern for their eternal salvation. They will thus be empty-handed when asked to give an account of their time on earth. It is not how much we have each been given since each has been given an individual and unique assortment of abilities, aptitudes, and talents. It is, rather, what each of us does with what we are given. The one who saves many souls with one talent is in far better position than the one who has saved a few or no souls with many talents.
Third, Herod tried to manipulate the Magi to find out where this newborn King was, not so that he might adore Him as well but, rather, so that he might destroy him. We are thus reminded that, not only does power corrupt but, also, that no matter how powerful you are here on earth, you are nothing but an insecure fool smoking delusion if you think you can ultimately succeed without God! Likewise, we are reminded that God will guide and help those who remain fixed on finding Him, as the Magi were guided away from Herod on their return home.
Fourth, speaking about going home another way, there is a beautiful song by James Taylor called “Home By Another Way” which you should find online and listen to. It is a touching recount and take on how we often have to be prepared to return home by another path than that originally planned or preferred. What matters, then, is that we do find our way back home, not so much that we take the path we would have preferred. God has a plan for each of us, and surely that plan may often not be exactly or even nearly what we would prefer, hope for, or even desire. However, if we remain close to Him and likewise open to His guidance, we will be able to discern the path home to Heaven that God wants us to follow. Following the dictates of this world may often prove counterproductive to following the path God has chosen for us. It is only by opening ourselves to the dictates of Heaven that we will be able to discern the path God wants us to follow back home, so that we can, in fact, go home by another way.
Lastly, we must remember that God is our Star, and He will guide us to Him if we only look in the right places. In this world where we are so often bombarded by temporal, superficial, petty, and even foolish distractions, it pays to remember that, ultimately, God should be our one and only GPS, as in God’s Plan for our Salvation.
In addition to the Feast of Epiphany, the dictionary defines “Epiphany” as a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality oressential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.” How often we see that God is found in the simple, quiet, and peaceful place away from the scrambling superficiality of this world. How many saints embody this contented humility so foreign to the dictates and tastes of this twisted world. How often do we hear people mock faith, religion, and the sacred as the simple hallucinations of ignorant, superstitious hicks? Let us see the Feast of the Epiphany as a powerful reminder that God invites all of us to use our gifts to serve Him, faithful that He will guide us home one way or another, when we remain open to the insight which only being close to God can bring!
Copyright, 2011 Gabriel Garnica