this gospel, these three wise men have caught our imagination, and
noticeably more so than the other group that Matthew mentions. That
group is the shepherds, and we have very few stories about them. I
think the reason is that in the gospels the shepherds are told
everything. They encounter a very talkative angel. This angel tells
them every detail—where the child is to be found, who is there, and how
to get there. When the shepherds arrive at the cave, the angel appears
again to verify the place. And when the shepherds return, they are
guided by a whole heavenly choir of angels singing to them along the
way. So these shepherds have no doubts, no questions, no problems, no
persecutions, no mystery. They didn't have to seek information. It was
handed to them. They had it made.
is not our experience. The easy-come, easy-go shepherds are not for
us. Our experience is more like the struggling Magi. We, like them, are
searchers. We often have difficulty with the large questions in life.
We can be harassed by modern-day Herods... men who have no respect for
any human life, theirs, ours or others. We worry about our children,
growing up in a consumer society with materialism and greed all around.
We worry about family life, about crime on the streets, and we worry
about serious illness, war, recession and death. We no longer feel
completely safe living in our own country. Yes, we, too, could do with
some heavenly messengers and heavenly assurances such as the shepherds
received, but the fact is, we experience neither. We identify more with
the Magi struggling across the hot desert with only a vision and hope
to guide them.
many ways the Magi are our kind of people. They are searchers, and so
are we. They are searchers that have taught us a lesson. They searched
together, and we must do the same. We can't search, we can't travel,
we can't find alone. We need one another. And that is why we go to
Church. Alone, we face the danger of becoming distorted and lost. We
need the collective wisdom of the community. We need the collective
support and prayers of each other. We are a church—a church that
listens together, searches the ancient Scriptures together, and cries
out together "Lord have mercy on us!"
Magi didn't have all the answers to life. Neither do we. They had a
wicked king after them, and in many ways, so do we when we are hounded
by certain vices and sins. But on their life travels, they had
fellowship and the light of Christ to guide them. And so do we. But
the best part of the wondrous Magi story comes at the end, when at last,
they found what they were looking for. And so will we.
that they enter the stable in silence. Words were inadequate to
describe all that they found. And falling down, they adored the Child,
and opening their treasures, they offered Him their gifts.
that having worshipped Jesus, the wise men left home by a different
way. And so it is with us. When a person has met Jesus and worshipped
Him, and offered treasures of the heart, the world is forever a
different place. You cannot go home the same way again.
did the Magi return home? My guess is that they skipped and danced the
entire way, because they had found more than they ever imagined. In
that small Child, they found the Messiah. And so will we.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
P.S. Monday, January 16th
is the birth date of Fr. Paul Wattson, Founder of the Franciscan Friars
of the Atonement. Born in 1863, Fr. Paul, who has been named a Servant
of God and Apostle of Christian Unity and Charity, in his cause for
sainthood, had a great devotion to St. Anthony of Padua and began the
Perpetual Novena to St. Anthony celebrated daily at Graymoor. Click here to learn more about this devotion – the Perpetual Novena to St. Anthony celebrated daily since 1912.