Feast of the Epiphany 2015

     I have always been very intrigued by the magi. Why would these rich people in the east leave the comfort of their home to follow a star? What was it that prompted them to take such a dangerous journey? While they were not Jewish and perhaps they were not religious people all, they were searching for the truth, which ultimately lead them into an encounter with Him who is Truth itself, Jesus.

     These wise men were not satisfied with superficial answers, no they truly wanted to discover answers to life’s deepest and most challenging questions. They were men of courage and humility. We should admire their humility to seek the truth over the pleasures of this world and their humility to submit to Him who is the truth when they discovered Him. We should also admire the courage they needed to set out to follow after a star, to set out on a journey into the unknown, even if other people thought they were crazy for searching after a star.

     Today the Church holds up the magi for our admiration and imitation. She calls us to become magi by becoming men and women of courage and humility. She invites us to set out on the quest of faith to discover Him who is the truth. During Advent we were reminded that God would come to us and on Christmas He came as promised and now with this feast of the Epiphany we are invited to seek out the God who has come to us.

     The wise men are truly models for our time. Today we seem to live in a world that puts too much emphasis on our own thoughts, feelings and desires and seems to forget about the truth. I don’t know about you, but I personally want to rise above my own thoughts, feelings and desires, which are prone to mistakes, to live in conformity with the truth. Like the wise men, I want that courage to set out on the journey of faith with the humility to accept where the truth leads me, trusting that the truth will lead to a life of peace and joy.

     As we start out on this journey of faith we are invited to look to the Church as our star. While there have certainly been many great thinkers and founders of religions none of them hold up against the Catholic Church, which was founded by Jesus, who being both God and man, died and rose, while all other founders of religions and great thinkers were merely men and woman who died and remained dead. I don’t know about you, but I would rather place my faith in Jesus who proved himself by rising from the dead.

      Now our Church does not advocate a blind faith. No God gave us our minds to comprehend Him and so we are encouraged to use of our mind, after all “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”[1] Since both faith and reason come from God, they have the same starting point, they cannot contradict each other.

     While our minds can help us comprehend the answer’s to life’s deepest questions, it is also prone to make mistakes. When we find ourselves disagreeing with the Catholic Church, I think we need to ask ourselves two simple questions: namely what and why. I think first we need to find out what the Church actually teaches. Sadly, today there is allot of misinformation out there and so it can be easy to have a mistaken notions of what the Church actually teaches and often we can find ourselves disagreeing with what we think the Church teaches and not what she really teaches or if we do know what she teaches, we often disagree because we don’t know why she teaches what she teaches.

     I think we also have to ask ourselves why we disagree with the Church. Often we can be tempted to disagree with the teachings of the Church because we feel a certain way. While our feelings are important we shouldn’t base life decisions on a feeling. I can feel like only eating pizza every meal, but that doesn’t make it the healthiest choice for me. I can feel like I’m going to win the lottery but that doesn’t mean I’m going to win. Or I can feel that it is ok to go out in the street and kill someone, but it would still be wrong. Often times when we disagree with the Church we feel passionately about our reason, but does that really make it true? I can passionately believe I can fly but when I jump out of an airplane without a parachute guess what happens? I passionately die! I don’t know about you, but I want the courage and humility of the magi to come and experience Him, not some notion of whom I think He should be.

     My friends, the magi saw that shining star and desired to pursue the truth and so were lead to a deep and personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Herod and his wise men were given the same invitation but feared surrendering their wills to the truth and thus missed the opportunity to have that life changing relationship with Jesus. Just as the star in the sky, invited the magi to seek after Him, who is the way to truth and the life, so too, our Church is that star beckoning us to come and find the little child in the manger. That child in the manger has something He wants to tell each and every one of us. Are we willing to be seekers and journey with the magi to find the Truth, which will ultimately lead to peace and joy?

[1] Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter on the relationship between faith and reason Fides et Ratio. 14 September 1998. Preamble.

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