Epiphany of the Lord

The journey of the Three Wise Men who followed a star to Bethlehem, a journey which the entire Church celebrates on the Solemnity of Epiphany is like a living parable. The core of the parable is the Magi’s journey: The Magi undertook a journey to encounter God. And isn’t that what every Christian life is, in its essence, a journey to the definitive encounter with God? Isn’t each one of us traveling through the vicissitudes of life, making our way towards God’s eternal throne, where we hope to be welcomed once and for all into the everlasting and totally fulfilling life of heaven, of perfect and uninterrupted communion with God? This is what the Bible means when it refers to Christians as “aliens and sojourners” in this world (1 Peter 2:11). This is what Christian spirituality throughout the ages means when it calls Christians “pilgrims” and our time on earth a “pilgrimage of faith toward eternal happiness” (cf. Lumen Gentium 21 & 58).

Since the Magi’s experience is a living parable, it has a lot to tell us about our own spiritual journey. Maybe most importantly, it tells us that God wants to communicate with us, and that he knows how to speak to us, to each one of us, in a language that we can understand. He does the same with us. He speaks to our hearts through the beauty of nature, through the providential events of our lives, through art and literature and friendship and every reality that occupies our attention. He speaks to us through the Church, which preaches God’s Word and communicates God’s grace in fresh ways in every generation. He really wants us to find Jesus, to discover the reality of his love and his presence, and he makes star after star rise on our horizons in order to lead us closer to him.

How do we know when God is speaking to us, when he is making a star rise in our hearts? The surest clue is that deep interior joy, that stirring of the heart, that the Magi experienced when they saw the star. St. Matthew actually describes the Magi as being “overjoyed at seeing the star.” In the midst of our journey of faith, God touches us and guides us through the incomparable satisfaction that we taste deep in our hearts whenever we hear God calling there, whenever we catch a glimpse of the starlight of God’s love. Let’s take some time now to remember the stars that God has used to guide us in our Christian lives so far, to look for the star that he is giving us right now, and to ask him for the grace to always recognize and follow every star he sends us, just as the Magi did.

(Starlight: A Retreat Guide on the Three Wise Men written & presented by Fr. John Bartunek, LC)