How perfect is it to have this feast day of the Epiphany of the Lord less than two weeks after celebrating Christmas?
For some of us, the Christmas joy may have subsided as we took down decorations. We may be worrying ourselves with keeping up with newly minted New Year’s resolutions as we see stores prepare for Valentine’s Day. The fast-paced and consumer-focused culture can make the encounter with our God made flesh start to feel far away, almost like a dream. Couple that with the continued rhetoric from the leaders of our land that create fear of “the other,” the Prince of Peace seems to have lost reign.
Enter the Three Wise Men—these astronomers, kings, foreigners who travel to pay homage to the newborn king. I can’t help but think of their conversations with one another as they traveled to Bethlehem. Were they worried or fearful? Were they excited and full of anticipation? Did they talk about the current events in their respected lands? Did they argue about social policies or moral theology? Did they talk about their families and the joys and tribulations of those relationships? Did they bond with one another or view each other with disdain or suspicion?
We will never know the answers to these questions—but we do know that upon seeing Jesus “they prostrated themselves and did him homage.” After their encounter, they did not return to Herod but instead “departed for their country by another way.” They were forever changed. These three men overcame geographical boundaries and potentially different ideologies, and together they had a collective experience of Grace. Even before Jesus could utter a word or perform a miracle, He was changing the lives of those around Him simply with His presence.
We, you and I, are the Three Wise Men. They remind us that encounter and engagement with the God who manifested himself in human form will always have a profound impact on our lives. We, together, in this New Year have the opportunity to travel alongside “the other,” bring our gifts of kinship, faith, and justice, and be forever transformed.
Justin T. White serves as Ignatian ministries associate at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland.