Homily for January 7

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Homily for Epiphany 2018
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily

--> What a story!  A big old star up in the sky!
Some wealthy astrologers look up, see the star and
They’re on their way!

Then the back-story: a little palace intrigue with King Herod,
some political posturing - and then, the Child is found!
Then a nap and a dream sequence
and in the dream, a message to the magi:
if you want to avoid a nightmare, go home by another way.

Quite a story.  An ancient story, yes,
but perhaps a story more contemporary 
than we might at first imagine.

Science teaches us to ignore the predictions and omens of astrology
-but we’re still attracted to things bright and shiny.
BLING!  That’s our word for it.
And the bigger and brighter the bling - the BETTER!
We can be so easily seduced to follow the shiny objects
that easily capture our and attention, seduce us
and distract us from our hearts’ deeper desires.

And of course the greatest temptation of all 
is to make of our lives a road trip
in pursuit of things that will eventually tarnish,
wear out or break down
- and deliver little or nothing of what they promised
of what we hoped to find in them.

While we might not live in palaces,
we’re no strangers to intrigue:
to gossip and rumors, to scheming,
to personal politics and power plays.
And where do we find this?
At home.  And at school.  And at work.
In our town and its neighborhoods, in our parish,
in the church at large, in our families and relationships.
The intrigue of our daily lives and circumstances
shape and sometimes misshape our thoughts, our choices,
our decisions - even the whole of our whole lives.

And that dream...

The Magi heard a message in a dream and changed their plans:
they remapped their route and went home by another way.
Whether we remember what comes to us in our sleep or not,
there are those wide-awake dreams and fantasies
we find hard to dismiss
and we chase them, we follow them in hot pursuit
whether they’re good for us or not,
whether they bring us peace or continuing disappointment.

And sometimes, like the magi, we want to go home
- but we’ve forgotten the way, lost the map,
- don't know which dream to dream,
which dream to trust, which star to follow...

So, something shiny to behold…   a road trip…   a little intrigue… 
and a dream…

That’s the plot of the Magi’s story
and perhaps the plot of our own stories, too.
But the heart of the Magi’s story is what saves their road trip
from being a journey to nowhere.
At the heart of their story they find Jesus.

Where are our journeys, yours and mine,
where are our road trips leading us?

The only way for us to discern
the lights we follow and the path we walk,
the only way to understand the intrigue and dreams
that shape our lives and our loves is to ask:
have we found Jesus?

Or, more to the point: are we even looking for Jesus?

Are the lights by which I live my life leading me to the Lord?
or to some other destination?
Is the road I’m traveling bringing me closer to God
or leading me down dead ends?

Does the back-story of my life
free me to make good choices and find peace
or does it trap me in confusion and disappointment?

Are my dreams real enough, true enough
to hold me up and sustain me
when my journey is rough and threatening?
when I fear I’ve lost my way?

When the Magi found Jesus they did two things:
they offered him presents
and then they went home, by another way.

Jesus is not looking for expensive gifts from you and me
but if we give what he asks for
it will be at some price, it will cost us.

You see, Jesus is on a road trip too:
he’s out searching for my heart and for yours
• Jesus is looking for me to sort out the bling
from what's genuine in my life.
• He’s looking for the gift of my time in prayer.
* He’s looking for me to put others’ needs ahead of my own.
• He’s looking for me to invite him, every day, 
to walk with me and guide me.
• He’s looking to be part of my life.

The Magi were changed when they met Jesus.
Yes, they went home,  but they went home by an alternate route.
Even if their destination was a familiar one,
meeting Jesus recharted how they would get there.

This story asks us to look at our life’s maps
to discern where we're going and how we're getting there:
where our road trip is bringing us.

Do we need to do some recharting?
Do we need to begin to “go by another way?”
Just as the Magi entered the house where Jesus was living,
so have we, this hour,  entered the house of God’s people at prayer.

And Jesus, whom we meet here, enters us 
in the sacrament of his table,
in the Bread and Cup of the altar, in the Eucharist.

Pray with me that in the midst of all the bling,
among all the bright lights in our lives,
that we will find the light of Christ and follow it,
that the journey each of us walks
will bring us closer to one another and to him,
the One we seek, who is the One who seeks us.


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