Throughout most of the Christian world, January 6th is the annual celebration of the arrival or coming of the Three Wise Men. It is a fitting conclusion to Christmas Day and the many feast in the season. The arrival of the Magi marks a seeking and finding, a beginning and end, an arrival and a sending forth. It has been the insights of Jesuit Larry Gillich (Creighton University Daily Reflections) that make this day different from all the previous markings of this particular and perhaps peculiar feast day I have celebrated.
Just twelve days ago believers and non-believers arose perhaps earlier than on most holidays, especially if here are non-believers snuggled between parents or blankets. All of us are responding to a built in "seek and you will find" mentality toward the colorful boxes beneath or around the Christmas tree. Surely after a few days what was discovered lose their attraction for many, especially those who received perhaps too many gifts.
In the Christmas manger scenes, the three kings, men who had studied the stars with the singular hope that they could discover the promised ruler, the longed-for Messiah, came upon the place where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were. As you look upon or imagine a creche, you might ask this question: "What are Jesus and the Magi teaching? What is the their true impact?" Their message might be stated simply this way: what we humans discover or come upon will, at a future time, become a cause of dissatisfaction that leads to fresh startings. This insight about the Magi and Jesus is new to me, I must admit.
So all our comings may result in more than we initially expected but, but, but there will be a moment when that excitement or satisfaction diminishes.
Throughout the Scriptures did you ever notice that those who were able to be with Jesus found themselves with him only for a relatively short time. Think of the shepherds, the Magi, the multitudes Jesus fed and even those who ran to the Easter Sunday opened grave site. Jesus knew it was better, more good-life producing not to encourage hanging on to them. He, not the seeking individuals, is the true finder. Jesus would have us move apart because "human-heart" searchings need to encounter a number of different discovery moments. This is truly an enriching way for humankind to make discoveries that provide lasting impacts on the heart and soul.
Larry Gillick, SJ, mentioned earlier, wrote this: "Jesus is not the reward for those who can figure him out by deep thinking." There is so much to Jesus that our human minds and hearts cannot fully comprehend. Why is it that most cabdrivers and barbers never grow tired of their profession? Certainly it cannot be the income! Every time the barber's bib is put around our necks, it happens that the barber is setting out on a new venture with his next client. Each customer is a discovery of a new experience in life. A cabdriver is no different. Each has become somewhat different after the customer goes his/her way. There are 6 barbers where I have my hair cut. Imagine the conversations about their customers and the insights among the barbers as the "CLOSED" sign is lighted and the men finish the long day. With a cabbie you only have to be the next customer to know what your "chauffeur" is thinking!
The shepherds and Magi came, praised God in the Child Jesus and then departed, enriched by the finding, successful in their seeking and then moving on to share their discovery. Perhaps when we hear said or ourselves say "Jesus is the answer." we might be mistaken because more often than not Jesus is the question! There is a real chance we might find ourselves learning more about ourselves and others in meeting Jesus. Thinking "finding Jesus" is not an end in itself. It is just another beginning we discover in our prayer and in our wonderings. As Gillick noted, "There is no ... limit to our surrendering the total control of the wealth of our minds, imaginations and ego." This might recall Ignatius Loyola: "Take all my mind, my memory, my will; all that I own.
The real discovery of Epiphany is that in that moment of discovery we actually notice that we are allowing God to discover us. We have to realize that Jesus has come to us purposefully to be with us in spirit and not simply to satisfy our seeking. Like the Magi, we seek to find this Child even in our lives today and to discover we are the ones who are found and missioned to other towns and places to seek, to find, to start again.