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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2 of 37 Fr. Bob's Reflection on the Ephiphany

Franciscan Friars
Fr. Bob's Reflection on the Epiphany
(Matthew 2:1-12)
In 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.
That 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.
In 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!"
The 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.
Notice 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.
Notice 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.
How 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.
Fr. Robert Warren
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren Signature
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Spiritual Director
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.

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