Epiphany (Fr. Simham)
Not much is known about the Magi or the wise men who came to visit Jesus on this feast of Epiphany. But what we do know is that these wise men traveled a long distance seeking the Messiah, the newborn king, a trip that took probably 1 to 2-years to complete. They had no map, no compass, yet they had a star to guide them on their journey, a star of wonder, a star of light, a star of hope. And when the star they had been following settled over the house in Bethlehem, these wise men found Jesus and responded with joy. They immediately worshipped Jesus and gave him gifts of praise. They gave special gifts to Jesus, not because they could receive special favours, but out of praise and thanksgiving for the wonderful gift of himself to us.
This seeking, and giving of gifts by the wise men, is very different from what we typically see today. Many today expect God to come looking for them, to explain himself to them, to prove himself who he is, and to give his gifts, rather then the reverse. They seems to say “Ok God! You want me to believe, then you better come and show me something like a miracle, or give me the winning numbers for the lottery, then I’ll believe.” No! I am just joking. But the attitude is true.
But those who are truly wise seek and worship Jesus, not for what they can get from God, but because they know who Jesus is. They know that this Jesus, born of Mary, is the Son of God, the one sent to redeem us and to save us. A gift far greater than a one-time miracle, or winning the lottery.
I sometimes ask myself quit honestly why so many people of our generation are drifting away from the church, drifting away from God. Why they don’t seek God? Why the wise men of our time are like cats on the wall. Why don’t our people get it right, why don’t they seek Jesus with all the energy they have, why can’t they see a better life in Jesus, why??? There are so many answers that come to my mind. 1. May be because they are so obsessed with personal freedom, that they don’t want anyone to control them. Even if it is God, forget the parents and teachers. None should control them. 2. People believe only the things that they can see. God cannot be seen or tangible. So they cannot seek.
And above all these things, the reason why many people do not seek God today is because ‘we as humans don’t look for things until we really need them, and even if we feel the need, we don’t look for the right things.’ That is our human tendency. i.e. We don’t seek the things however important they may be until we really need them. Think about it, when do we go to the doctor, not until we need to? The dentist? Not until we need him. When do we call a plumber, not until we need to? When do we study for an exam, not until we need to? When do we clean the house, not until we need to. Extent it to religion; When do we go to church and to confession, not until we need to. When do we seek Jesus, not until we need to. When you get some problem or fall sick. Then you and me remember him.
You get the idea; we’re What I call “not-until-we-need-to” kind of people. And because we’re “not-until-we-need-to” kind of people we tend to seek God like he’s some kind of divine vending machine. We don’t approach him until we need something. When we need him, we throw our prayers and supplication.
But prayer and God’s Word are not coins to be inserted in a vending machine, and faith is not a button you push when you want something. God doesn’t submit to our whims and fancies. God is not some heavenly vending machine we seek when we want gifts or favours. God is not your genie and you are not his Allahuddin. God transcends our petty seeking; he is God almighty, He is love incarnate. Magi sought him not because he was going to give them something, but they studied the signs of the times and discovered that the powers of nature are pointing out to their maker. They followed these signs and found their maker and when they found him, they adored him as the ultimate cause of their joy and the universe.
So also we need to lose that vending machine mentality and ‘the not-until-we-need-to mentality’ and realize the time to seek Jesus is now, not later when it may be too late, but now, so that we can enjoy the blessings of knowing Christ, and live without fear of the future. Amen.
Fr. Showreelu Simham