This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus to the whole world through the three Magi. His manifestation to the Jewish people was through the shepherds. The Magi go to Herod, he consults the religious leaders, and the Magi follow the star to Bethlehem.
In this Gospel story, there are three distinct reactions to what is going on. Herod was threatened by the possibility that his power and position might be challenged. This ultimately led to his horrific act of killing many babies. The second reaction was that of the chief priests and scribes: indifference. Even though they knew the scriptures, they weren’t even interested enough to go see what was going on. The third reaction was that of the Magi: they knew that something was going on and they were open enough to go out of their way to learn and experience what was happening.
These three reactions continue today. There are those who are hostile to Christ and Christianity, perhaps because belief would demand a change that threatens their lifestyle. Many are indifferent: they have heard the Good News, perhaps they have received some of the sacraments, but they go through life ignoring the whole thing. Then there are those that have “seen the star” and continue seeking and trying to find Christ in their lives.
And you know what? I suspect each of us might have a mixture of these three reactions within us! For example, a person might accept Christianity, participate in the sacraments regularly, and in many aspects of life attempt to live by Gospel values. But it might be inconvenient or a challenge to be concerned for those in need or difficult people, so the person ignores or is indifferent to that challenge of our faith life. Some aspects of our faith, like being open to all people (both the shepherds and Magi were outcasts and “unworthy”), might be challenging and scary, thus provoking a hostile reaction in the person. Thus, all three of these reactions are mingled in that one person.
I invite us this week to spend time reflecting on the three distinct reactions presented in the Gospel story of the Epiphany, asking ourselves how much we are seeking Christ like the Magi; how much we might be indifferent, like the religious leaders; and whether or not we have any of the hostility of Herod in us. Of course, our goal is to make the Magi grow in us, while diminishing the other two.
May 2024 be a year of growth in our ability to respond to Christ in the people and events of life. God bless.
Church sign of the week: You talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?