Another seeker is mentioned in today’s Gospel, one we cannot afford to dismiss too quickly because his breed is not dead and is, in fact, very much alive today. That individual is Herod. He was genuinely interested in the Christ Child, but for all the wrong reasons. His spiritual descendants live in the Church today within those who want a Christ and a Church which pose no threat to their “normal” lifestyle. They will not listen to a Church which says: “Be generous to the poor. Be peacemakers, not simply in theory or on a banner but in your day-to-day relations with family and co-workers. Save sex for marriage. Be open to and accepting of human life. Be different from a pagan world.” Like Herod, when they find Christ (this time not in a dwelling in Bethlehem but in His Church), all they will do is kill Him – at least the real Christ. They want a Savior Who makes them feel good without really being good, and that is just impossible.
An old cigarette commercial used to declare, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel,” which was meant to highlight the importance of a good smoke for a truly committed smoker. With no pun intended, we look upon the Magi today and realize that they rode on camels for hundreds or even thousands of miles looking for answers. Ours is an age of searchers, too. People seek out cheap highs and find themselves dead or addicted for life. People look for pleasure in the abuse of drugs and sex and discover they have AIDS or worse. People want the joy of sex without the responsibility of parenthood and come to learn that their birth control pills have given them cancer. People try to manipulate nature and wake up to find they have created monsters. Am I saying that God punishes these seekers with physical or even lethal problems? No, ours is not a vengeful God; this is just how life works when man refuses to accept the answers God gives him in and through nature. The Magi were truly open to answers and so finally found Answer. And as the old coffee commercial put it, they heard a voice say, “Welcome, pilgrim, your search is ended.” And they knew it. And they changed their lives.
to the hope made available through the birth of new ..
While many similarities exist between the epiphany to the Magi and the epiphany to us, important differences also surface. Our experience of the Messiah’s revelation is marked by even greater clarity. Jesus reveals Himself to us through His Church, gathered into one from every people and nation on earth, symbolized so powerfully when Pope John Paul II used to consecrate as bishops on this feast men from every continent. While the ancient scribes could search the Scriptures and direct the wise men to the Christ, many of them were unable or unwilling to reach Him themselves. Today the Messiah reveals Himself to us through His holy Word as that is faithfully expounded by His Church – no dead letter here but a vibrant and loving encounter between the Word spoken once for all and the Word received and lived in obedience and joy. The Lord reveals Himself to us in His Church’s sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. And so, we pray after Holy Communion “that we may perceive with clear sight and revere with true affection the mystery in which you have willed us to participate.”