Epiphany of the Lord B: January 7, 2024

Matthew 2: 1-12

Fr. John Tran

The Magi or Wise Men capture our imagination. There have been several authors who wrote about the Magi. One of my favorites is a poem by T. S. Elliot, Journey of the Magi; another is the author of the novel, Ben Hur; and the last is the author of a short story, The Fourth Wise Man. In all of these works share one thing in common: they all tie the birth of Jesus to his death. The Magi in each work are people who took chances; they left home, the suffered from their journey; they found something they did not expect. Ben Hur, believe it or not, begins with the Wise Men traveling to find Jesus, and ends with one old wise man being present at the crucifixion. The Fourth Wise Man is the story of a wise man who was late for the trip with the three wise men and only finds Jesus on his road to Calvary. He give his gifts for the new born king to those in need he meets along the way. Dying, he heard a Voice saying: “When you helped the least of my children, you helped me.” In his poem, Elliot has one of the wise men as an old man asking the question: “were we led all that way for Birth or Death?”

Imagine the Magi. Before they started out on their journey, they had to put aside their religious beliefs for the possibility of something new. They had to travel at a time when any travel was dangerous because of poor roads, the weather, robbers, the mood of their servants, not to mention the camels. They may have been rich, but nothing was a sure thing as they began their journey. And yet, they did begin it, and stayed focused until the end of it. What they found was not what they expected. And they still believed and protected the child from King Herod. They suffered physically and accepted the surprise of a poor child born in a stable; they did not take their gifts and go home. It is interesting that all the authors mention above imagined that these wise men made a connection between the child they saw and death; a death that led to new life beyond all imagining.

The Magi are us. They symbolize our journey to Christ very well. The Magi set out to find the Messiah-King the world longed for. It was a journey filled with challenges, questions, and obstacles that ends, finally, in the experience of epiphany: the realization that God is in their midst.

Every human life is a journey. As we make our way through the time God gives us, we seek signs of God in our midst; we seek happiness that is real. In the end we come to realize that its love in all its joy and sorrow, in all its demands and gifts, that makes us real, whole human beings. In encountering Christ, the Magi behold the love of God in their midst.

We have begun our journey to Christ. May we stay focused to the end. May our encounter with Christ be a constant epiphany of recreating and transforming our lives in the love of Emmanuel, ‘God with us’ May the Lord help us to allow other people to experience epiphany, God with us.