I can’t stop thinking about the Epiphany this week, as I — like the Magi — seek to find Jesus.
There are times I can’t find him. Or he’s there, and I can’t see him. I don’t recognize his presence in people around me, in situations that are hard. Shouldn’t it be easy, to find the Son of God?
Sometimes it’s tempting to listen to voices of doubt. God doesn’t exist, they say. Follow your own star; ignore the one in the heavens. I want eyes like the magi’s, who weren’t put off when the king they traveled so far to see, turned up in a cowshed. He must have been nothing like what they expected. And yet, they searched until they found him, and they worshiped. What was their secret?
Here’s what I glean from the Magi (see Matthew 2:1–12):
1. Start with what you know
The magi notice a star, use their art to determine it announces the birth of a foreign king, and travel to the most likely place to find him: the royal city. But earthly wisdom only takes them so far. Jerusalem is not the place.
2. Search the Scriptures
Jerusalem may not be the right place, but it was worth the journey. For there the magi hear the word of God: a prophecy that the child is to be born in Bethlehem.
3. Follow its light
It’s not enough just to know God’s word. Follow it—do what it says—whether you understand it or not, and whatever others think. The priests in Jerusalem, for example, know the prophecy but do nothing. Others who hear are “troubled.” No one else bothers to make the trip. Still, the magi set out for Bethlehem.
4. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you
Having stepped out in faith, the magi are rewarded by heavenly guidance: the star they saw in the East appears and guides them to the child, whom they worship and honor with gifts.
In this new year – may we not stop at following our own stars, but walk according to God’s word even when we don’t understand it; and may the “star” of his Spirit light our way to Christ as we take him the gifts of our lives.
© 2024 Sarah Christmyer (This article was adapted from one published on this blog January 6, 2016.)
You may also like this article, which has appeared on The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study blog: Epiphany: Finding Christ After Christmas.
Read TS Eliot’s thought-provoking poem, Journey of the Magi (or hear him read it himself!). It’s a wonderful poem, worth reading multiple times.