Epiphany of the Lord, 3 January, 2021: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a; Matthew 2:1-12
Isn’t it logical that the Magi begin their search for a newborn King of the Jews in the palace of Herod? But these men are not diplomats or politicians; in English we often refer to them as the Wise Men. They are men learned, not so much in books as in interpreting the world they inhabit. They must know human nature as well as the natural world to trust a dream rather than Herod’s own expressed desire to pay the infant homage. Perhaps they’d already suspected Herod’s sincerity from their fruitless interview with him.
They are wise enough to travel to an unknown destination as three, rather than as single travelers, complimenting one another, compensating each other’s limitations. They are wise enough to recognize an infant in an insignificant house as this newborn king, crowned, not by a diadem but by a sign in the sky.
Their gifts may seem fanciful, though the gold is certainly practical. They are symbolic and poetic offerings, wisely evoking, rather than defining, the significance of this child.
Like these wise men, all of us here have travelled great distances to this place. This church is our Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread,” our sacramental bread. As for them, it is not the end, but the orientation for the rest of our lives.
What can prevent us from being as wise as they? What can prevent us from living like them from the depths of our being, where God abides with us and speaks with us? Is there anything, any power or prestige that can distract us from protecting this fragile, newborn, divine life within us? Or from recognizing God’s promises fulfilled in the most unlikely ways?
We’ve already come so far: may nothing derail our pilgrimage.