1/8/12

The Magi as patron saints

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Homily for Epiphany 2012
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Audio for homily



Although we popularly refer to these visitors from the east as “kings,”
the gospel tells us they were Magi,
very likely practitioners of a cult, probably from Persia.

And every year these three mysterious, rather ambiguous,
unnamed figures appear in the gospel and in our crèche scenes
at church and even in our living rooms.

Allow me to propose these Magi as “patron saints” for us:
holy persons whose lives, in one way or another,
recommend them as sponsors for those whose lives
in someway mirror theirs.
How then might the Magi be our patron saints?
First of all, the Magi are searchers and they are following a star.
They’re looking for the Lord, they want to find him
They’re close to where he’s supposed to be
but they can’t quite locate exactly where he is
and so they’re asking questions about him.

How many of us are looking for the Lord
and following the light of faith, wanting to find him?

How many of us sometimes have trouble
finding exactly where the Lord is in our lives?

How many of us have questions
about where the light of faith is leading us?

In our searching for God, don’t we, like the Magi, sometimes get lost?
Over the years, how many wrong turns
and sketchy short cuts have we taken?

Right now we’re in church, and like the Magi, we’re in the general area
where the Lord is to be found
and like the Magi, we’ve come here to worship, to do him homage.
But as close as we are, we might still be asking,
“Where is the Lord in my life?
where is Jesus in my home? in my family?
where I work? in the world around me?”

Like the Magi,
we have questions about exactly where Jesus is to be found.

I’m sure the Magi got all kinds of answers to their questions,
probably from each other, certainly from folks along the way,
from religious leaders
-- and even from the king, from the government!

Two thousand years later, it’s still the same:
everyone wants to tell us what to think, what to believe
and where to find God.

And don’t we hear on all sides the voices of those
who would have us believe whatever they believe?

Aren’t there some who think us foolish because we follow in faith
a light we believe comes from God?

Are there others who, like King Herod, would plot against us
when we give our allegiance, our loyalty to our God?

Are we easily swayed from our beliefs by philosophies and politics
that mock our faith as naïve and out of date?

The Magi gave a fair hearing to all who spoke to them,
to all who offered direction,
but through it all, they continued to follow the star,
the guiding light that had brought them as far as they’d come.
They didn’t give up on the light they’d come to trust,
a light still shining
when they looked up into the night sky’s darkness
or deep into the shadows in their own hearts.

The Magi make good patron saints for us because, like us:
they searched, got lost, struggled, inquired, listened, discerned,
remained faithful to the light,
persevered until they found the Lord
and then offered him the best of what they had to give.

Might the Magi turn our eyes again to the star’s light,
to the light of faith,
and bring us closer to the Lord?
And upon finding him, might we, like the Magi,
willingly offer what gifts we have to give:
our time, our prayer, our treasure, our minds, our desires,
our talents, our hearts?

Let me share with you my musing
on what the Magi might have talked about on their way home,
after finding the Child Jesus.

Close your eyes, picture the Magi in a caravan of camels,
making their way back to Persia, and listen in on their conversation:
We set out with myrrh, frankincense and gold:
now, empty-handed, we’re homeward bound.
Empty saddle bags on the camels 

and our hearts filled of questions…

Did we leave the gifts with the right king?
Herod in a palace, warm, fine and plush;
the child in a barn, all muck and hay and oh, the smell!

Oh, I think so!
Remember Herod’s eyes, envy-green?
But ah, the innocence of the child
who but cried and nursed and slept…

I think I saw him smile once!
And surely his parents needed the help.
None so poor would have turned down the gold -
but they were honest folk…

You could see it in Mary’s face -
and how Joseph cared for her and for the child…

They’ll save our gifts for when they need them
and mark my words: they will need them…

But did we find the one we sought?
Was it his star? And what if we were wrong?

His star it was, indeed:
a star of mystery beyond the wisdom of us all.
We may not understand, but we know:
it was his star…

What next, then?
What to tell the folks at home
of what we saw - and didn’t see?

And what will they make of our tale:
a manger for a throne and a barn for a palace?

They’ll likely think us fools and I wonder, still, myself:
did we find anything? or everything? or even more than all?

A trip we won’t forget, for sure,
nor him we found nor those we met along the way…

And the angel in the dream, with warning - just in time!
So this way home, another way…

A new way, now, the path of dreams…

Mind the star, it’s still above…

But fading fast, so keep the pace…


Like our patron saints, the Magi,
we come to the Lord’s house and offer our gifts:
our praise and thanks, our bread and wine,
our hearts and our lives.

At this table, the Lord welcomes us and all we bring
and in return he offers us the gift of his life, his Body and Blood,
in the bread and cup of the Eucharist:
food to nourish us who follow in faith
the light of Bethlehem’s star.



 
Epiphany 2012
 
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1 comment:

pjw919 said...

"The Magi make good patron saints for us because, like us:
they searched, got lost, struggled, inquired, listened, discerned,
remained faithful to the light,
persevered until they found the Lord
and then offered him the best of what they had to give."

What a well-crafted and written sentence as part of Avery good homily.