Overheard in the caravan, on the way home...

Homily for Epiphany 2013
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

It’s a curious tale in the gospel here:
visitors from some unnamed place in the east
seeking the Christ Child by a star’s guidance.

I wish St. Matthew had given us a more detailed report –
that would have been interesting and helpful
but we are told some things about the magi’s journey
that might be valuable for us to consider on our own path.

First, in following the star, the magi had to look up:
look up and out of their own experience,
outside the ordinary routine of their day-to-day.
They had to pay attention to someone outside, above and beyond them
to follow a star leading them to an unknown destination.

And to follow that star,
the magi had to leave behind what they knew best:
they had to leave the comforts of home
and set out on a journey beyond the familiar...

And in following the star,
the magi had to let go some measure of their self-determination
and let God have a hand in charting their journey
and mapping the route to their future.

Perhaps the importance of the magi
rests less in their finding the Christ Child
and more in what they were willing to sacrifice in seeking him:

their willingness to let go some things
for the sake of finding something more valuable;
and their letting God stake a claim on their hearts
and have a hand in determining their life’s journey.

Epiphany’s star invites us, as it invited the magi:
to look up out of the day to day, the routine,
to what might be if we follow the Lord’s lead;
to follow a light not of our own making,
leading us beyond our comfort zone;
to leave behind the things we cling to and depend on,
trusting that God will provide gifts of greater value;
and to let go some of our own plans
to see what God might ask or offer us.

Some will find such suggestions impractical and foolish;
wise men and wise women will find them filled to overflowing
with possibility and promise.

How about you and me?
Will we rely on our own sense of direction and the GPS on our dashboard
or be brave enough, wise enough to follow a star?
to follow the Lord?

It’s not an easy decision. I don’t think it was easy for the magi, either.
Even after following the star and finding the Child,
there must have questions lingering in their minds.

Try to imagine the conversation the magi might have had in the caravan,
on their way home after visiting the Holy Family.
Close your eyes and imagine the caravan, the camels
and their conversation.

Perhaps it went something like this:
Frankincense, gold and myrrh,
that's what we came with.
Now we go home empty-handed.

Empty saddlebags on the camels,
and our hearts filled with questions…

Did we leave the presents with the right king?
One in a palace: warm, fine and plush;
the other in a barn, all muck and hay – and oh, the smell!
Did we leave the presents with the right king?

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 clearly, his parents needed the help.

No newborn’s parents could turn down the gold!

No, they were honest folk…
You could see it in her face
and in the way he cared for her and for the baby.

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? 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 will we tell the folks at home
of what we saw - and didn’t see?

And what will they think of us
when we tell of a manger throne
in a barn of a palace?

They’ll likely think us fools!
I wonder, still, myself
if we found anything
- or everything
- or even more than all…

Well, a trip we won’t forget, that’s sure,
nor him we found, nor those we met along the way…
And the angel in the dream, with warning – just in time!

Now this way home,
another way…

A new way now,
the way of dreams…

So mind the star,
it’s still above…

But fading fast,
so keep the pace…

The light of a star, the light of faith, has led us this morning to this altar:
not a manger where animals feed
but a table where the Lord nourishes his people.

As the magi found him long ago,
may we find him today in his Word,
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist
and in one another.

Star of wonder, star of night; star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light!


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