Sunday, January 6, 2013

Magi For the New Evangelization

At the Mass for the Vigil of Epiphany, a young couple was married in my parish and while at the reception, many people commented to me about how beautiful our church is.  I was talking with two men and one of them asked me if one of the paintings behind the main altar depicted Abraham and Isaac.  Indeed, it does.  His inquiry about Abraham helped me to see a connection between Abraham and the magnificent feast of the Epiphany.

So often, when we talk about evangelization and the New Evangelization, we do so with a thought towards introducing programs that will bring thousands upon thousands to the Faith.  But God began by bringing one man to Faith.  Of all the people who existed at that time, God chose Abraham.  God called Abraham.  In a sense, God risked everything on Abraham.  And then, things began to grow.  Abraham and Isaac, then Jacob and his twelve sons, and then a nation.  God didn't call all of the nations.  He chose one and from that one, he chose to show forth his glory.  This was God's preferred method.  One, a few, some more, a nation.

On the Feast of the Epiphany, we see God's plan finally extending to all of the nations.  This was God's plan all along.  But, it began with one man.  In the Magi, we see represented the whole of the earth.  God desires every human being to come to know his Divine Son, Jesus Christ.  God desires that all should come to Faith in Jesus Christ and find salvation in Him.  Every person that we meet today . . . God desires that that person come to Faith in Jesus Christ.  And St. Matthew's account of the Magi provides to us a model for Evangelization.

Firstly, God gives to the Magi a sign that corresponds to their particular circumstances.  They see a star.  Was this an ordinary star, a comet, an alignment of planets, an interior vision that only they could see?  I don't know.  All I know is that God gave to them a sign.  All of us who have come to Christ have been given signs along the way.  There have been things that corresponded perhaps to our natural curiosity about the world.  Why am I here?  How did I get here?  Is there some plan for my life?  What happens when I die?  The Magi also had questions.  And they dedicated themselves to pursuing the answers to these questions.

All around us, people are looking for answers about the meaning of life.  They too need a sign to indicate the way forward, the way to the answers.

Now, the Magi arrive in Jerusalem.  In Herod's palace, they talk about their search.  In a sense, they bring their religious quest into the public square.  Much like today, their pursuit for the Truth raised the alarm in the public square.  Herod's forces immediately spring into action to eliminate the Truth.  In a similar way, we too experience this today.  When we bring our religious questions and matters of faith into the public square, we are met with opposition.  It can seem that the only "private beliefs" that are unacceptable in the public square are the beliefs of Christians.  But, this is a part of the New Evangelization.  The New Evangelization must necessarily involve Christians bearing witness in the public square.

The Magi move on from there and we are told that the star came to rest over the house where Jesus was.  This will always be the case.  Anyone who sincerely, honestly, and diligently seeks the truth will ultimately come to the person of Jesus Christ.  When we set out on the journey toward truth, it leads to the one who says, "I am the Truth."  St. Matthew tells us that upon seeing the star settle over the house, the Magi "rejoiced with exceedingly great joy."  Those who bring the good news are necessarily those who have found Christ and have "rejoiced with exceedingly great joy."  Evangelization begins with us being drawn to Christ, the story of the signs that were given to us, the search for him, and the exceedingly great joy that we discovered in meeting him.

Upon finding him, the Magi prostrate before him and open their treasures and give him gifts.  If the gifts that we were to give Christ were publicly displayed for all to see, would we be embarrassed by what we have offered to him?  Have we been stingy?  Again, in offering their gifts, the Magi are a model for evangelization.

In offering gold, they proclaim that Jesus Christ is king.  We too are called to offer our gold in testimony to Christ's kingship in our life.  Do we offer him generously from the gold of our monetary possessions?  Do we offer to him the gold of our time?  Do we offer to him the gold of our obedience, submitting to his Divine Will?  Do we offer him the gold of our obedience to his commands as revealed to us in Scripture and in the Sacred Teachings of the Church?  Do we offer to him the gold of our submission of intellect and will?  This gold proclaims Christ's kingship over my whole life.  The gold we must give him must proclaim to the world that Christ exercises kingship over every aspect of my life.

If gold proclaimed his kingship, frankincense proclaimed his Divinity.  Do I open the treasure of my frankincense to Christ?  Do I proclaim his Divinity by giving the gift of my time in prayer each day?  Do I give him the worship that his properly due to him?  Do I adore him in the Eucharist, render him devotion, receive the Eucharist worthily?  Do I submit to his Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Penance frequently and with devotion?  Do I open the treasure of my frankincense by adoring Christ with all of my heart, mind, and soul?

The myrrh acknowledges the humanity of Christ and that he would suffer.  Do I open the gift of my myrrh by pouring out love upon the poor and the suffering?  Do I generously care for the poor, feed the hungry, welcome the immigrant, protect the unborn, and show favor toward the downtrodden?  Do I open the treasury of my myrrh and care for the humanity that Christ came to redeem?

While God could certainly send stars to whomever he wants, it is Christians who are the stars he sends today.  In opening our treasures to Christ, we proclaim our personal attachment to him.  The more we pour out from our treasury and give to Christ, the more convincing witnesses we are to the world.  When we give our gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Christ, we proclaim that he is our king, our God, and our brother.  The Magi show us how to evangelize.  It begins with us seeking the truth, following the signs, bearing witness, being filled with exceedingly great joy, and opening our treasures.  When we open our treasures, we are saying that this child means something to me personally.  He's not some theoretical notion.  He's my King and my God and I believe that so much that I am willing to give him all of my treasures.

In doing that, we become stars for others.  Our light becomes a convincing witness to those whom we encounter.  The Magi show us the way in the New Evangelization.  We can be sure of this: if we faithfully follow the example of the Magi and open our entire treasury to Christ, those who see the light of our example and do likewise will rejoice exceedingly with the great joy that only a disciple of Christ can know.

1 comment:

  1. Great post once again, Father. I like to think of the Priest as a ''star'' that leads us to Jesus as well. And how true it is, dear father. You all do lead us to Jesus. May God bless you for that. Praying for you