Following the Feast of the Epiphany on Wednesday, the reflections – two of them – are reflections on those Wise Men. There is a special new year blessing & the sung blessing today is ‘Bless to me, O God’ (Heavenly Peace CD – Geoffrey Nobes).
May the week ahead bring you & our world that ‘heavenly peace’.
Reading: Jane Williams on the Wise Men.
There is something about the Wise Men that captures the imagination. Although we know so little about them, somehow we identify with them. We do not know from where they came, or what they did for a living, or when they first saw the star, or with what instruments. We don’t even know how many of them there were. Traditionally, we assume that there were three of them because they give three gifts. The Wise Men seem to get there under their own steam & by their own cleverness. They know how to watch the heavens, & they know that the star they see is unusual & highly significant. They know how to set about a long journey, & they
have enough self-confidence to call on kings. They have good reason to think well of themselves, & they are both nearly right & profoundly wrong. But if when they set out they are only quite wise men, their wisdom is still enough to recognise the greatness of what they see & worship it.
The Feast of the Epiphany
This feast tells us that for God there are no foreigners, no strangers, no aliens, no outsiders. We all belong to our God no matter what external physical or cultural differences there may be between us. We all belong to God no matter what religious convictions or lifestyle differences there may be between us. Our God is inclusive, unpredictable, imaginative, compassionate, forgiving, & God desires a personal encounter with us.
This feast means that we are called to be ‘epiphany people’. There is no turning back – just an on-going commitment to ‘shine forth’ with courage, compassion, vision, & to hope & to seek again & to live with a restless spirit, so as to be intensely engaged with humanity each in our own unique way.
What this feast tells is that although most religious discourse begins with a notion of a transcendent God up there in heaven, & then we try to explain everything down here in relationship to that transcendent God, in fact, as Jesus taught us, it is something more akin to ‘from the bottom up’. In other words, Jesus taught us to find God incarnate in this world, in our neighbour, in the eucharist – that is, in the ordinary elements of this earth. That is a very different notion of religion. It turns everything on its head. That is why this week we have celebrated three kings paying homage to a poor baby in a feeding trough.