The Epiphany of the Lord – January 6, 2019
Since moving to Kentucky back in 2003, I’ve gotten into the sport of hunting. Before I go on, if you are an animal lover and not a fan of hunting, have no fear because rarely are any animals injured on my hunts. Usually it’s just me sitting in a tree stand enjoying nature. My absolute favorite time to go hunting is the early morning before the sun comes up. It’s extremely peaceful and quiet. And with clear skies, I’m amazed at how many stars I can see up above. I can see constellations clearly, planets occasionally and the Milky Way is on full display. The beauty of the sky is nice because it distracts me from how cold my body is feeling.
But as dawn approaches, the rays of the sun peak around the horizon, the stars begin to disappear, the birds awaken and the squirrels begin the jump around in the leaves. My mind turns away from the sky and my focus shifts to waiting for that big buck to come out from hiding. Interestingly, even though I can no longer see the stars, they are still there. But it is only in the still of the darkness when the true beauty of the sky is revealed.
I read somewhere that people during the time of Jesus Christ in the Middle East would often go up on their rooftops and gaze at the stars much like I do from my tree stand in the woods. They didn’t have Netflix, YouTube or Facebook so they had to find other things for entertainment. Gazing at the stars night after night allows one to become very familiar with the patterns that would be seen on any given night. So if something suddenly appeared out of the ordinary, anyone paying attention should have seen it.
We hear in Matthew’s Gospel today that, “Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.’” Even though it’s not specifically mentioned in this Gospel, tradition tells us there were three Magi. So of all the people that were gazing at the skies, only three saw something unique… something calling them to leave the comfort of their homes and go on a quest.
Why only three? Maybe everyone else was too distracted, too busy or simply just not willing to remain quiet long enough to notice. Maybe more people saw the star but were too scared to venture out of their comfort zone. God used the star as a sign to announce the birth of His Son. A sign that was available to anyone who had eyes to see it. Three people took up the call, left their comfort zone and eventually found Jesus Christ in the quiet of the night.
I often wonder how many times God is calling us but we are too busy to see or hear it. How many times do we choose the comfort of technology over the quiet of prayer? How many opportunities have we missed to grow our faith because we were too afraid to follow God’s gentle nudge?
What then can we learn from the Magi in Matthew’s Gospel?
We can hear God speak to us when we are less distracted. But unfortunately, our hectic 9-5 schedules often keep us too busy to hear Him. So always remember to take some time to step away from the business of the world, away from the distractions, and look to the light of Christ. Because if we allow the distractions of the world to fade, it is then that we can see God’s light shine the brightest and the clearest.