2011-01-02, Epiphany A, The Gift

Homily 01-02-11
Epiphany A
Is 60:1-6; Ps 72:1-13; Eph 3:2-6; Mt 2:1-12

“Go and search diligently for the child.”

Underneath our gifts of sweaters and socks, of puzzles and games, computers and movies, i-phones and nanos, there was another Gift we just may have missed this Christmas. You wouldn’t have found it tucked down in the toes of that stocking. You wouldn’t have found it hidden behind the tree trunk or within the folds of its’ skirt. No, this Gift was right out there in the open. And this Gift could only be found if we diligently searched for it, just like the Magi.

You see, in order to find their Gift, the Magi needed three things… First, they needed the Wisdom to know that there really was a Gift awaiting them – somewhere out there in the world. Next, they needed a Sign to designate the time and to point the way to find their Gift. And third, they needed the Diligence to Act on that wisdom and perception. And that action just may have involved some hazardous travel and even dangerous encounters with “strangers” and “deceitful kings.” But the Magi knew deep down in their hearts that THIS Gift was well worth it all. Like the Magi, we too have the wisdom to know that “a most magnificent Gift” is awaiting us. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be here – in Church and at Mass!

But what about the Sign? Are we still seeking a sign? I know that every time I see a shooting star, or the beauty of an elegant flower, or the smile on a newborn baby, or the Blessed Sacrament elevated in prayer, that my heart leaps in recognition of God’s Signs. You see, they’re all around us. All we have to do, is open our eyes and hearts to recognize them. And in doing that, we must also remember, that the sign is not our final destination, but it’s just a guide that points us TO that destination, to our Gift. If we were to quit our search at the Sign, instead of the destination, we would just become “simple dreamers.” And we all know that the world is full of dreamers who have never found the Gift, but wish they could. And this was surely not the case for the Magi!

Now the wicked king said to the Magi, “Go and search diligently for the child.” Did you notice that the Magi never answered him? Like, “Duh, what do you think we’ve been doing all this time?” No, instead of further provoking the king with snide comments, the Magi simply continued on their quest. They recognized, in their hearts, the sign of deceit in that king’s remarks. And acting on that sign, by avoiding another visit with the king, the Magi very likely saved their own lives.

You see, like the Magi, we need to be very careful in discerning the meanings of the signs all around us. They call out to us from every direction with words like: “Buy me,” or “Indulge yourself,” or “Strike back,” or “That’s too hard,” or “Just take a peek,” or “Just one taste,” or maybe the worst, “No-one will ever know.” Beware of these signs, because they are not from God. As a matter of fact, if we ever hear these words, our best move would be to run as fast as we can in the opposite direction. And that action, in itself, would show our diligence in moving closer to our Gift.

Now the Scriptures tell us that when the Magi finally came near to their destination, they were “overjoyed.” Imagine being so filled with joy that nothing and no-one could ever harm you. A joy so perfect, so overwhelming, that it never gets boring, it never breaks and it doesn’t need batteries. The perfect peace! And all of this before the Magi had even reached their Gift.

And then it happened… “Upon entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother.” The Gift! God incarnate! Nothing the eye can see, the ear can hear, or the mind can imagine – could ever be as perfect as this Gift. God poured out Himself, for the love of His Creation. The immensity of God, of whom the whole universe cannot contain, in the form of a helpless, tiny child, so that we might come closer to knowing Him. And that Gift of His Love was shared, not only with “those chosen few,” the Israelites, but with everyone, beginning with the Magi.

You see this is Our Greatest Gift too! Our perpetual Gift. It’s not just a Christmas present, but a Gift that we can open every day anew. We won’t find it under a tree or in a stocking, but we WILL find it in the hearts of the “givers”, in the hearts of the “believers.” God incarnate – the Spirit of Jesus living within us.

In every smile we offer, in every door we open for a stranger, in every morsel of food we give to the poor, in every gesture of forgiveness, these are the frankincense, and the gold, and the myrrh that WE place at the feet of Jesus.

If we can live every moment of our lives seeking out His Signs, and then Act upon them, wisely and diligently, with Jesus as our guide, giving as if our next breath will be our last, and allowing His Joy and Love to fill us to overflowing, then not only will we have discovered OUR greatest Gift, but we will have BECOME, ourselves, His Gift to the world.

jmp 01-02-11

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