Homily for Epiphany: going home by another way...

"The Journey of the Magi" by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

My approach in this homily was influenced by James Taylor's song ,
Home By Another Way. You'll find the lyrics for that song and a link
to download the audio in this earlier post.

Going home by another way...

(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,

they departed for their country by another way.

Perhaps the most important part of this story for us is:
not the star
not the prophet’s words
not the audience with King Herod
not the visit to the Christ Child
not the gifts…
but perhaps, for us,
the most important part of the story of the Magi
is how they went home…
They went home by another way…

In the grand revelation
of God’s love made manifest to us in Christ,
this story of the Magi is meant to remind us
that Christ came not only for the chosen people of Israel
but for us, too -Gentiles-
represented by the mysterious visitors from the East.
And there’s something to be learned
from how their pilgrimage and meeting with Christ
served to re-orient them: how they went home by another way.

Simply having met Jesus made them marked men in Herod’s court.
They had met the “newborn King of the Jews”
and that encounter was a threat to those in power.
Because they had met Jesus,
the Magi were no longer welcome or safe in Herod’s palace.

Because they had met Jesus,
their journey home had to be re-routed.
Because they had met Jesus,
their old maps would no longer be enough.
They were beginning a journey that would take them
on a path that was new to them,
a path they’d not walked before.

And therein might lie the importance of this story for us.

Are we not those who have met Jesus?
Would we be here today if we hadn’t already met Jesus?

But if we’ve met the Lord -
has that encounter re-routed our lives’ journeys?

Whose star do we follow?

What prophet’s words shape our thoughts, influence our choices?

What gifts do we work for?

To whom do we offer them - and why?

Has our encounter with Christ
made us more welcome or unwelcome in places of power?

Has our having met Christ “marked” us
as men and women whose path leads them
by another way - by a way that many will not walk?

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

It’s important to see that the Magi did go home.
They were not asked to leave their home but rather,
to approach the familiar from a new, a different perspective.

Does our knowing Christ re-orient us
and how we approach the familiar ups and downs of our lives?

Did our recent celebration of Christmas,
rechart the journey we’re on?

Or are we already back in Herod’s court,
our encounter with Christ tucked away for another year
with the Christmas lights and decorations?

What we celebrate in the Christmas mystery
is how God remapped divinity and visited us in Jesus
- and then, went home by another way,
went home by way of human suffering and death,
went home to prepare a place for us in heaven
even as Christ prepares a place for us at this table
where we remember the path home he walked to the Cross,
in whose shadow we pray.

May the Eucharist we receive, in which we meet Christ Jesus,
strengthen each and all of us,
to go home by another way…


  1. Am glad to be able to read your homily, as a couple of wee ones were running interference with your delivery at the 5 PM mass!


  2. Great Homily, CP. Enjoyed hearing it this morning and reading it again here.

    You know I'm a fan of the James Taylor Song, and may I add his words here:

    "Maybe me and you can be wise guys too, and go home by another way."


  3. Not sure if this will work. Copy and paste...I found the song.


  4. Awesome, Anne! You have no idea how long I searched to find a complete recording - thank you!

  5. Great to read the homily even in FLorida. Thx CP

  6. Re your words: 'their maps would no longer be enough...' I do hope that you enjoy this poem and find it as thought provoking as I do.
    Every blessing for the New Year from London, UK, Concord Pastor!


Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!