B Cycle – Feast of Epiphany 17

                                                                            Mt. 2:1-12

Nations will come to your light and kings to your brightness.  So Isiah prophesied and so it happened in fulfillment of the words spoken long before the birth of Christ.  Matthew tells us Magi came from the east following the star.  The Jewish philosopher Philo says “Among the Persians there is the order of the magi who silently make research into the facts of nature to gain knowledge of the truth. And their visions, clearer than speech, give and receive the revelations of divine Excellency.

So from this order of magi who studied the stars and the written word to gain truth they we believe they were the ones we celebrate today as they gave homage to the Christ. However much of what we believe and accept is based on oral tradition and not proven fact.

The scriptures only tell us by way of prophesy that kings bearing gifts would come to honor him.  The names of these magi or how soon they arrived after the birth of Christ does not appear in the scriptures. However, Christian oral tradition has given us identities of those magi as Melchior from Persia, Caspar from India and Balthazar from Arabia.  Since their names do not appear in the scriptures I wonder why it was important for us to identify them by name.  Does our knowing their names make it any more believable or real for us?  I would like you to consider why is it we are so compelled to deal with the inconsequential facts when the entirety of our faith in Christ is based on some things we cannot prove – the virgin birth and his resurrection.  We do believe these things without any proof except the words and lives of the apostles and those disciples’, the men and women who followed him.

What is important for us to center on today is the fact that the prophet told us the Christ child would be visited by these magi and he made that prophesy 800 years before the birth of Christ.  We could never win the argument of this event of magi or the birth of Christ or his resurrection on any provable fact. But we can win that argument by the way we live our lives and by the way we put into practice the gospel message of love and forgiveness.

We who worship Christ must be able to take our desire to encounter Christ and put that desire into action just as the magi did.  It is not good enough for us to be bystanders who only hear about Christ and never take the time to allow him to be our Lord and Savior.  By our words and actions we must honor Christ and point to him as the messiah just as the magi did by their words and actions.  We need to be visible to others and vocal in expressing how our belief and faith is motivating us to seek what was promised to us.

We also should act on the truth of scripture because it is there that we find in the lives and words of those who witnessed his life, his death and resurrection we find the truth of what we believe. We need to allow the truth of the scriptures to make our hearts burn within us just as it did the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  It is in seeking Christ as did all those who came after the magi seeking the way the truth and the life.  We need to allow the words of the Jesus to touch our hearts so we encounter the truth of what it means to be a disciple.

It is not enough to seek him and honor him and then go home never to be heard of again.  We need to look beyond magi to the lives of so many who sought him, discovered him and invited him into their lives to be totally transformed. These are the true worshipers who believe in his words, believe in his promises and believe he truly came so that we might be restored as sons and daughters.  It is those who came and did the work of proclaiming Jesus as Lord that changed hearts and minds so that belief in Christ grew and expanded.

So this day is not about magi, kings or gifts. It is not about how far they traveled or how long it took to get to Jesus.  It is not about what they did after they bowed before him and worshipped him – for we do not know what they did after returning to their homes.  This means the story is there for us and is about us and our response to the invitation to let Christ be born in our hearts.

What we are doing with what we believe as truth. Does it motivate us to seek more or does it motivate us to desire to encounter Christ so he can change us?

Today’s gospel story should challenge us to reflect about several questions.

Are we seeking the savior and his salvation?

How long will we study whatever it is we are studying before we start to move toward Christ?

What will happen if we do stop and make a decision to truly have an encounter with Jesus Christ so our hearts burn within us?

We have to realize there is a need for us to seek to discover Jesus Christ as savior.  This is what motivated the magi. This is what motivated the disciples. This is what motivated the great sinners who became great saints after their encounter with him.

The story of the magi should challenge us to act on what we know is truth and seek only to worship our savior.

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