The Epiphany of the Lord – Gospel reading Matthew 2:1-12
The magi were overjoyed with hope at the sight of the star. They encountered Christ, they prostrated themselves before him and gave him gifts, and then they went on their way. They went home.
Can you imagine what they talked about on their journey back to their country? Or did they spend the whole journey in contemplative silence? What did they do when they got home? Did they evangelize? Did they live differently? Was their life changed knowing that the prophecy had been fulfilled and that God was physically present on Earth? That a Savior had arrived to save the world?
I think we can connect the experience of the magi with the rhythm of each of our spiritual lives. We are blessed with many different ways to encounter Christ: through our relationships with other people, in prayer, through the Eucharist, spiritual reading, retreat experiences, etc. Our encounters with Christ guide us, inspire us, lift us up, open our hearts. We give thanks in our prayers and in gathering as a community at Mass. And then it’s up to us. To go home. To live our lives.
My personal encounters with Christ have been deeply meaningful but also brief. Like an intense flash of light. Brilliant and then gone. Or, sometimes it’s more subtle. I hear something said in Mass that takes a day or two to sink in and then later realize its relevance in my life. But no matter the nature of the encounters, I keep them with me, packed away as a source of strength that I can draw on when necessary.
Like a spiritual backpacking trip, we take what we need from our encounters with Christ, pack it all up, then forge ahead and go. Sometimes the trip goes as planned, and other times we are detoured by snow or ice or issues with the trail. And sometimes we get a little lost. Either way, we keep going, drawing on the supplies we’ve brought with us, until we have another chance to refuel.
Like the magi, if we’re looking for the star and paying attention, we will find him. He will give us what we need, we can pack it up and store it in our hearts and minds, and take another step on our journey. We can give thanks in prayer and in the way we live our lives. Take his strength and love and share it with the world.