Humility and the Epiphany
The Magi followed the light of a star to find Jesus, the Light of the World. They came from nations far away—without passports or documents. They are a reminder to us that God loves and calls to himself all his people, wherever they come from, whatever language they speak or customs they have, however they look or dress.
These foreign kings needed humility to pay homage to a “king” who was so different from themselves. For me, this is a reminder that I often have a difficult time accepting other people’s positions on things. The Magi were “stretched” in their understanding of what another kind of “king” can be about. And so can I, if I dare to visit and be in the presence of the difference. Even if I don’t end up changing my mind, I can always reflect on what I learned and see differently from before. I too might have an epiphany—God’s way of revealing something I didn’t understand before.
Fr. Ron Rolheiser has a wonderful reflection on King Herod’s response to the birth of a new “king” at http://www.liturgy.slu.edu/EpiphanyB010718/reflections_rolheiser.html. Herod’s jealousy is a reminder to all of us of how we sometimes become threatened by new life or the gifts of others.
This is a rich story with a powerful challenge: what is my own reaction to new life, especially to life that threatens me, that will take away some of my own popularity, sunshine, and adulation? Can I, like the wise men, lay my gifts at the feet of the young, and move towards anonymity and eventual death, content that the world is in good hands, even though those hands are not my hands? Or, like Herod, will I feel that life as a threat and try somehow to kill it, lest its star somehow diminish my own?
To bless another person is to give away some of one’s own life so that the other might be more resourced for his or her journey. Good parents do that for their children. Good teachers do that for their students, good mentors do that for their protégés, good pastors do that for their parishioners, good politicians do that for their countries, and good elders do that for the young. They give away some of their own lives to resource the other. The wise men did that for Jesus.
How do we react when a young star’s rising begins to eclipse our own light?
Who are the “Herods” in life today? What is it that Mary, Joseph and Jesus would be running from today? What warnings do we get that lead us to continue our journey home “by another way”? What is that other way?