Epiphany. We finally get to talk about the final figures of the Christmas story, the Magi. These three mysterious men, who traveled from what is now modern day Iran, taking seriously the message they say as the stars and planets aligned in a most peculiar formation signifying an extraordinary event. So extraordinary that it was not even an once in a generation opportunity. They wanted to see and experience it for themselves.
Do you approach your personal epiphanies in such a way? Do you take seriously those flashes of insight? Think on and about what it might mean for you? See them as life-changing possibilities?
I may not understand Mars animating my sign, Venus in my fourth solar house, Mercury in retrograde, or the second New Moon inviting Pluto and Uranus along, but I do know that when something zings into my consciousness or a recurring dream interrupts my sleep or that I can vividly recall in the morning, I need to pay attention: something extraordinary is brewing.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. ~ Matthew 2:1-12
Here’s what I find so fascinating about the Magi:
They were open and trusting: The Magi had their own beliefs and systems of study. They were steeped in their own traditions and were serious, devoted practitioners. They did not worship the God of the Hebrews nor did they study their sacred texts. Yet, something emerged from their own study that compelled them to act. They were open to what they saw from their studies and trusted their insight to go seek out this child born king of the Jews.
They persevered and remained discerning: There must have been enough vagueness in their study that led them first to Jerusalem, the central worship center of the Jews and logical place where to find the child born they sought. They then had to seek out the Jewish religious leaders to find out what was written in their sacred scriptures. The Jerusalem rumor-mill alerted Herod to these exotic travellers. His paranoia was sparked. There was something they didn’t trust about their encounter and then the warning in their dreams. They did not return to Jerusalem.
They were prepared and and willing: The trip was long and arduous. They came bearing gifts fit for a king and whatever else they saw in the stars. Gold for a king, incense for a priest, and myrrh for embalming a corpse. They paid their homage and respect to the child and his family, and returned back to their country. I wonder what the impact was for them personally from that whole experience.
What epiphanies have you had recently? What are you doing about them?
I know I’m given moments of insight. May I learn to pay attention to those details; may I be open to their message; may I be discerning and also trusting. May I seek your guidance and wisdom, as those Magi of old. Amen.
Image credit: NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team, STScI, AURA.