January 8, 2023

Solemnity of the Epiphany
Year A
Fr. Jonathan Reardon

A ‘journey’ is defined as ‘the act of traveling from one place to another.’ It is derived from the Latin term ‘diurnal’ meaning ‘daily portion’ or ‘a day’s work’ or ‘a day’s travel’ … Yet, wouldn’t you agree that the word ‘journey’ implies so more than just ‘the act of traveling’. The etymology of the word gives us the impression that we’re not just considering the movement from one place to another but also consideration must be given to the passage of time as one travels. And of course, consideration is given to the reason for the journey in the first place.

          St. Matthew tells us that the Magi came from the East. He is not specific about where exactly but scholars believe that were most likely Median or Persian – modern day Iran. Think about this – the act of traveling from Iran to Bethlehem would have taken about 18 days – walking non-stop. That means it probably took about a month to get there. So, in order to get to Bethlehem in time, they had to have calculated the time of Jesus’ birth… This tells us that they were tracking the signs. They were paying attention to the prophesies of the Old Testament … and the information they were gathering was so compelling they had to go – there was a reason to make that journey. Remember – it would have taken roughly 1 month to get there… imagine the conversations along the way, being asked the reason for the journey by folks they met along the way, the anticipation and expectation, the excitement … Jesus gave them a reason to act, a reason to travel … and it culminated in an encounter with Him … with meeting Him face-to-face. Non-Jews were among the first to pay homage to Jesus … it was no ordinary journey – it was life changing. Pope Benedict XVI, in a homily on Epiphany in 2011 noted that it was not with a telescope but with the eyes of reason searching for the meaning of reality with a desire for God … it was in this that the Magi journeyed knowing that it was entirely possible to meet Him.

          The Magi teach us something here… Is not their journey symbolic of our own journey of life. They give us motivation – these men were inspiring in their own right … they were astrologers, astronomers, philosophers, quasi-theologians all rolled into one… They were thinkers. Their journey across the desert was one in search of Truth… and they found their answer in the person of Jesus Christ. They teach us to search for truth, to be open to being lead – perhaps over a lifetime, amidst difficulties of all sorts along the way – and that the answers to our questions, the search itself culminates in an encounter with the Living God. The Magi spent a great portion of their lives contemplating, studying, tracking… they spent about a month traveling … and we will never know how long they stayed in Bethlehem but that would be the defining moment of their lives…

          How many of us can say we put in the same effort? They motivate us to never give up… we have the great gift of being able to encounter Jesus Christ, in a real and personal meeting, in the Holy Eucharist. We meet Him each time we come to Mass… The journey leads us here. Do you have questions? The answer is here. Do you have doubts? The answer is here. Do you have difficulties? The consolation is here. Our journey leads us here… It is entirely possible to meet the Lord… and we find Him right here, right now… this is our moment. May we not be blinded to the radiance of the face of God that shines so brightly on us this day.

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