Some time ago, I attended a Christmas party and was privileged to meet a young man, about to be married, who had only 2 days earlier made his first Holy Communion. I don’t know if you are like me, but I always feel a certain awe and joy when I speak to people like this. A great sense of gratitude to God for once again showing me that he still speaks to people today and still gives them the courage to act on what they hear.
As this young man told me something of the long journey he had made from out of his non-religious background into the Church, the questions he asked, the yearning for truth that he felt, the fears that held him back, the opposition he experienced, I got a real sense of the great adventure he was on, that I am on, that you are on - a journey towards God across beautiful meadows, through deserts, over mountains - till we reach our goal.
Today is really the day we celebrate those who, like the Magi, seek the Lord - agains all odds.
Listening to this young man’s story – as he followed his star to find God I caught a sense of the Pharisee and the Herod and the Magi who are always present in us as we try to live our Christian lives.
HEROD: the fearful one, defensive, greedy for power, frightened of challenges – frightened to move. I’m king around here and I’m not sharing!
He stifles all opposition, even by murder. His fear makes him crush all opposition. He is the killer of babies. That’s what I call real fear!! He refuses to go and see for himself because to go means to leave behind.
Herod is that part of us that doesn’t want to grow, that clings to security.
JEWISH ELDERS: These are the men of the Book, those who have it all. They hoard the truth like a treasure - the Sacred Deposit – the Law and the Prophets, and believe themselves privileged because they know it all. And it’s true: they do know it all. They know exactly where the Child is to be found but their knowledge makes no difference in their lives; it doesn’t seem to help them get to Jesus. They know all about him but they don’t know him as a person.
There is a Jewish Elder part in all of us. We might even go so far as to call it the Catholic part - the part which has the truth and sits on it. 'We are the one, true Church' we say, but does it bring us any closer to Jesus?
THREE WISE MEN: the pagans! Straightforward, open-minded, open-hearted, adventurous seekers after the truth, wherever it is to be found. They leave behind the comfortable life and head off into the cold, the dark and the uncertainty. Like the young man I met - seeking his Lord. They are not happy with the knowledge of the Elders, they want the Lord and nothing less. And finding him they give him everything, their treasures.
Well, where are we in our journey to Jesus?
- Does Herod have the upper hand in our lives - struggling to keep control and not let Jesus take over?
- Are our Jewish Elders in charge - complacent, static, unmoving, happy with the Law; happy to go to Mass without ever meeting Jesus?
- Are our Three Wise Men in charge - adventurers, seekers, yearning to meet him? Are we ready to give up, daily, what does not lead to him, and seek in the darkness of prayer and simplicity and silence the infant King of the Jews?