Feast of the Epiphany of Jesus Christ
An author who had spent twelve months with a nomadic tribe in northern Pakistan once suggested that nomads were probably the only people in the world who were at home wherever they travelled. They had a connection with the land and found their meaning and sense of belonging in the place they were – regardless of location. More so they depended on each other, on traditions, ancient wisdom and on the experiences of the generations before them. The author contrasted them to many people who spend so much time moving about and going from experience to experience, place to place and even sometimes, relationship to relationship – always seeking a place to be at home, but never finding it.
In some ways such people are trapped in a pattern that the ancient Romans described by the term a ‘ignis fatuus’ – a false light. People wandering in the desert would see a reflection of light on the horizon or a far distant hill, and thinking was a campfire would move towards it seeking refuge and safety. Of course, as they get closer, the light moved further away and so they were doomed to an endless and fruitless search for the safety they sought.
How different however is the story of the ‘Magi’ who are also depicted as followers of the light and are likewise wanderers; or perhaps a more accurate depiction would be to call them ‘seekers’. Theirs is a journey of discovery yes, but it is one fuelled by faith and trust and they seek only the truth.
They become a model of faith, but of a faith that seeks deeper understanding and closer relationship to the source of life – Jesus the Light of the world.
Every Christian is called to this same journey.
The Magi teach us also that we need to be discerning and prudent in our decisions too – certainly, we ca seek advice and direction from all sources, but we must measure these different voices according to the depth of their sincerity too. Thus, the Magi listen to the directions of Herod and his court, but with a listening ear that is also tuned to God’s prompting, they see through the deceitful intentions of Herod and do not become trapped in his plan
Let us enter 2021 seeking the Lord above all and doing so with a spirit that is attuned to God and discerning of all we hear.
Fr. Denis Travers, C.P., is a member of Holy Spirit Province, Australia.