Saturday, 14 January 2012

"Nowhere in the gospel do we read that the star guided the wise men"

This post reproduces the message from the newsletter of St Patrick's Church, Soho Square, for the feast of the Epiphany, celebrated last Sunday. I saw it when I was checking Mass times for later today. St Patrick's website can be found here.

Today’s feast marks the end of the Christmas Season. Traditionally, the date of the Epiphany was fixed as January 6th  – the twelfth day of the Christmas Season but we celebrate the feast today. Two weeks ago we remembered the birth of Jesus Christ, God made man, born of the Virgin Mary. Today we celebrate the fact that his birth was not a private event to be enjoyed and shared by Mary and her close friends and family – rather his birth was to be shared and revealed to people throughout the world, over and over again.

The wise men travelled first to Jerusalem because they “saw his star as it rose…” They need help and advice. The star has temporarily disappeared and so they consult with King Herod and his advisors. When they leave him and resume their journey, they see the star once again. It’s reassuring presence is there to guide them once more. We don’t know for how long or for how many miles they travelled without the presence of the star, it may have been hidden from view simply because of heavy cloud cover, but they did not give up on their journey. Nowhere in the gospel do we read that the star guided the wise men. We only read that they “saw it as it rose...” and that “there in front of them was the star they had seen rising”.

In between these two occurrences they travelled blind, walking in darkness but never giving up. Like the wise men, we are on a journey. We watch as the priest raises the host at the consecration of the Mass. We are captivated by its simplicity and purity and are drawn forward. Here in our presence is the word made flesh. We partake of that flesh in communion but then the host is gone. We leave the security of the Church and sanctuary with the memory of the Elevation of the Host, just as the wise men drew strength from the sight of the star which they watched as it rose. Like the wise men we can expect to experience moments of darkness and insecurity. We are not sure if we are on the right path.

We seek guidance and help and then there is another fleeting glimpse of the light of God guiding us through life. We are not on a floodlit path but on a journey where momentary glimpses of the power and wonder of God will guide and sustain us.

The birth of Jesus at Christmas was a once and for all event. The feast of The Epiphany reminds us that that birth brought salvation to all people – including you and me, unworthy though we are. The journey we share is fraught with difficulty and sometimes, perhaps, even danger. It’s a journey that many have taken before us, and many more will follow in our footsteps. We pray with them all: “Lord, your light is strong, your love is near; draw us beyond the limits which the world imposes to the life where your Spirit makes all life complete.”

1 comment:

Patricius said...

"Nowhere in the gospel do we read that the star guided the wise men."

The Collect for the feast of the Epiphany reads:
"O God,who on this day revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star, grant in your mercy that we who know you already by faith may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory."