The story of The Magi
Sunday, 6th January 2019
The story of the Magi can be taken in different ways, but this year, let’s just take it as a pattern of all Christian prayer and life.
The Magi seem to be those who are seeking and searching, and they are. But only in response to a mysterious call. God always takes the initiative. God is always the first to call. We experience that call in a thousand ways – our inner restlessness, our inner yearnings and longings that nothing seems to satisfy. The very fact that you are reading this means you’ve heard it too!
We need light to guide and encourage us along the way. God’s word is a light, an encouragement, when we feel lost as we often do. “Your word is a lamp for my steps!” (Ps.119) We’re always longing for sunshine, aren’t we? But it’s inner sunshine, sunshine in our hearts, that we need even more. We need this deep joy of God in our hearts: Remember two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They were down and depressed but when Jesus explains the scriptures to them, they are transformed: “Were not our hearts burning within us,” they said, “as he explained the scriptures to us?” Joy is part of being a follower of Jesus but it’s a deep – down joy. It’s not surface stuff or passing highs! In fact, we can have storms on the surface of life without losing this kind of deep inner joy because it’s not based on passing things. St. Thomas Aquinas warns us not to let sorrow or guilt, even for the greatest sins, deprive us of this kind of deep peace and joy. Like the Magi, we must keep moving on.
The Magi also hand over the substances used to control life in their magic arts – gold, frankincense and myrrh. And for all of us, this is the hardest part of all. To yield control, to hand over our lives, our work and our future into the hands of God! Remember Jesus’ struggle in the Garden: “Father please, I beg you, take this chalice from me! Let me save my people in some other way. Please not this way!” He pleads and struggles with God as we often do, if we take God seriously. But he always yields; he always surrenders, “But not my will or my way, but the way you want it!” In very ordinary language:
Don’t give in too soon but don’t hold on too long either!