Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Epiphany of the Lord (January 7th 2007)

The journey of the wise men is a journey of faith. It is very much like the journey of faith which we may make today.

Firstly, the wise men are started off on their journey by the observation of nature. They are astrologers, and something in the stars, something in the natural world, stirs their curiosity and spurs their enquiry. So it is for many. The stunning wonder of the created world, the beauty of a sunset, the glory of a landscape, the kindness and generosity and self-sacrifice of another human being - all of these suggest to us that there is more to existence than just this brief life - all of these can stir within us a desire to seek the meaning of all things, the creator, the loving God.

And then, part of the journey completed, having trod the first steps of faith, the wise men listen to the words of scripture, 'for this is what the prophet wrote'. The next turning on the journey of faith involves encountering the revelation of God, listening to the writings which have been handed down. And so it is for us. Marvelling at God's glory in the world is one thing, but then we must seek meaning, hear the words of others and learn from them, seek understanding, hear the teaching found in the Bible and in the Church, to allow him to speak to us and for us to listen to his word.

And next, the third part of the journey, takes them beyond their own findings, beyond the words of prophecy, to a meeting with the child himself. Now they meet Him in person, and they fall to their knees and give him homage. The person hinted at by creation and their own wonderings; the person pointed to by the words of prophecy and the teachings of others, is now present before them, and they must worship him. And so too, for us. Faith is not found in nature - though it intrigues us. Faith is not given to us by scripture and the Church - though they instruct us. Faith is met in a person - who loves us, and we must worship him.

And this may seem to be the end of the journey: but it is not. Having found the subject of their faith, the wise men learn that they are now in danger, and must return by a different way. Faith changes lives, and lives of faith can be fraught with challenges, and dangers, and yes, even suffering - but also filled with great joy. For they have found the Truth, the Meaning of all things, the Word made Flesh, and worshipped him.

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