Home By Another Way: Homily 1/4

Homily for Epiphany 2015
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

They departed for their country by another way…

Almost a “throw-away” line at the end of the story of the Magi.
After a long journey from the east, after following the star,
after  inquiring all over Jerusalem,
after a private audience with King Herod,
after searching some more,
after finally finding the Child and his Mother,
after offering him their gifts,
and after a good night’s sleep including a mysterious dream,
they went home by another way

You’ll notice the scripture mentions only two kings, not three:
Jesus the new born King and King Herod.
Having met both kings, the Magi take a pass on the one in the palace,
the one with prestige and power, sitting on a throne,
and they favor the infant King, the babe in arms,
nursing at his mother’s breast,
the One who couldn’t speak a word
but who somehow spoke to their hearts.

• They preferred Mary’s simple house to Herod’s royal court -
and they went home by another way.

• They preferred to give their treasures to the Child
rather than claim a reward from Herod –
and they went home by another way.

• They didn’t do what Herod had commanded,
but rather followed a warning in their dream -
and they went home by another way

How about us? You and me?
Christmas is just behind us,
the feast when we, like the Magi, pay a visit to the Christ Child.
What difference did that visit make in my life and in yours this year?

Visiting Christ literally re-routed the Magi’s journey
and they turned away from the seductive lure
or prestige and power and influence,
and set out on a new path, heading back home – by another way.

Has our annual visit to the Christ Child altered our direction,
re-routed us, drawn us to walk a different path in the new year?

The Magi’s story poses other questions for us, too.         
What star guides our way?  Whose star do we follow?
Where do we hope that star might lead us and, more importantly,
where, indeed, does it lead us?

What gifts have we to offer?  Do we offer out best?
Or do we keep the best for ourselves and give others what’s left over?
what’s extra?  what we no longer need or use?

Has our encounter with Christ tempered our response
when we’re tempted by prestige, wealth and power?
Has our encounter with Christ Child given us a hunger, a thirst,
for what’s simple?  what’s true?  what’s  fair?  what’s pure?

Has our visiting Christ this Christmas in any way
recharted the journey we’re on
or are we already back in Herod’s royal court,
our annual visit with Christ tucked away for another year,
boxed up with the Christmas lights and decorations?

What we celebrate in the Christmas mystery
is how God changed his route and came to visit us in Jesus,
to dwell among us and within us,
and then, to go home by another way,
by way of human suffering and death.

The Lord went home to prepare a place for us
in the home our hearts long for,
the truly royal home of God’s kingdom.

A taste of the royal banquet to which we’re invited
is provided us here at the Lord’s Table, at the Altar
where Jesus, born of Mary, offers his life for us
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

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


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