This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. One meaning of the word “epiphany” is “manifestation” and refers to the manifestation of Jesus to the world.
On this day, we focus on the Wise Men, the Magi who were on a difficult journey of faith to encounter the Lord. Commenting on this journey, as reported in the media outlet, “Vatican News”, Our Holy Father Pope Francis stated, “The exciting adventure of the Wise Men from the East teaches us that faith is not born of our own merits, thoughts, and theories.” He noted that our faith is a “constant dialogue with the Lord.”
Progressing in faith, the Magi faced many risks and obstacles on their journey. These risks and obstacles included the danger inherent in traveling on a difficult and arduous journey. The Magi probably battled the hot blazing sun by day and the freezing cold at night. They were probably, at times, hungry, frustrated, and tempted to turn back. Yet, they persevered on their journey to encounter Christ.
As we reflect on their journey of faith, we realize that like the Wise Men we also are on a difficult journey of faith to encounter the Lord, and we also face many obstacles. These obstacles come in the form of temptations that can easily lead us away from the Lord. Such temptations may be very real and very powerful. For example, we may encounter friends, co-workers and even loved ones who subject us to ridicule because we dare to search for a place for the Lord in our lives. In addition, in this increasingly secular society, we may encounter those who do not want us to include a place for the Lord in our marriages, in our homes, or in our schools.
We may also have to deal with our own physical and spiritual complacency. Pope Francis noted, “Often we try to soothe our hearts with creature comforts. If the Magi had done that, they would never have encountered the Lord.”
Fortunately, like the Wise Men, we do not undertake our spiritual journey alone. We journey and persevere as a community of faith, despite the risks and obstacles which we may encounter on a daily basis. As a community of faith, we can assist each other in overcoming the many obstacles we face. We need each other’s guidance; we need each other’s support; we need each other’s encouragement; we need each other’s prayers.
As previously noted, Pope Francis has challenged us, as Catholics, to be a more integral part of the Church. He spoke of the need for community and the bond of unity and sharing that should mark the lives of all Christians on their spiritual journey. Therefore, as we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, we are encouraged to embrace the bond of unity in the spirit of collaborative ministry: Our priests, deacons, and laity working together to build up the Kingdom of God.