Feast of the Epiphany
Feast of the Epiphany
January 6, 2019
Curiosity. They say it killed the cat. We know it gave identity to a monkey named George. But it also gave us Epiphany! That’s what started it all: curiosity. What else could it be that got the magi to follow this strange star? They were astronomers; it was their nature to be curious about unusual stars and celestial appearances and how they guided all the things of earth. It was curiosity that landed them on Herod’s doorstep inquiring about this “newborn king of the Jews”, curiosity that finally bringing them to the stable. But then something changed. Their curiosity evolved into humility - because they recognized in this child something bigger, something more, something far beyond what they could have imagined. They found God and with bowed heads offered their gifts.
It was a gut-wrenching curiosity that also led Paul in his quest to come to know the deeper Mystery of Christ. His curiosity, his quest for truth and meaning and faith was fulfilled when he came to know the truth that Christ had come, not just for the Jews, but for the Gentiles as well. And now he stands humble, along with the prophets of old, revealing this great Mystery of salvation to the world.
Curiosity, not certainty, is the first gift of Epiphany. It sparks all our quests and searches in life. We search for meaning in a world that seems to get more confusing with each passing year. We search for purpose when life continues to unfold and evolve. We search for love to feed our hearts and please our bodies. We search for understanding when life throws challenges at us. In fact, curiosity is a part of our very God-created nature. Without curiosity, without the ensuing search, we could never find God.
That is why knowledge and faith can be -and I would say are- complimentary gifts of the Holy Sprit. The curiosity to discover what makes the world tick and what makes our bodies work and what makes our brains respond and what makes our emotions come to life is complimentary to our faith because all sincere curiosity about human life and behavior, about physics and biology and psychology and medicine, about what is beyond the stars and in the depths of the sea will all ultimately…if we are curious enough…if we search deep enough…bring us to God.
We can be sure that God never intended to be some hidden mystery never to be revealed; God wants to be found. Even the earliest calls of the revelation of God were to be proclaimed to the world. “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come…Nations shall walk by your light and kings by your shining radiance…all shall come proclaiming the praises of God.” Does that sound like God wants to sneak into the world silently? Does that sound like a God who wanted to remain hidden? I don’t think so!
If the world was to ever know of the presence of the Christ-child, something needed to happen. That something was the star and the curiosity of the magi and their relentless quest for this new-born King.
The quest of every generation, the curiosity of every person, the search of every soul is to find that presence of God in this world. Curiosity, wonder, questioning, discerning, searching is what will get us there, as sure as the star guided the magi to Bethlehem.
But we must be relentless in our searching and listening and watching. We can never allow our challenges and fears and detours keep us from continuing our quest. We must always be humble enough to admit that we don’t know and that we aren’t sure, that there just might be another way look at this. When the wonder of science or the beauty of art and music gives us a glimpse of the Great Mystery; when we hear the first cry of a newborn child or witness the last breath of a loved one; when we see the poor and the broken as windows to the divine rather than a problem to deal with; when love and intimacy discloses yet another depth of relationship; when curiosity remains a welcomed gift…we will find God.
And when we do, we will do what the magi did that day, the only acceptable thing: we will bow down in humility and offer whatever it is that we have to give to this Divine Mystery we call God.