Sunday, January 5, 2020

Epiphany

Years ago, Cardinal Stafford wrote about two types of individualism that have eroded the sense of the Christian vocation, of being called to fulfilment through self-sacrifice for the common good:

Benjamin Franklin’s utilitarian individualism…is today seen in the hard-nosed, bottom-line culture of commerce or in the numbers-crunching cost-benefit analysis of government or corporate bureaucracies.

The other variety…is expressive individualism.  It is the concern for self-expression and self-realization that runs from Walt Whitman’s barbaric yawp to today’s multiple forms of therapy and self-development.  The self-made man and the self-actualized one.  Looking out for No. 1 and Being Your Own Best Friend.[1]

The Wise Men remind us that we are not self-contained and self-sufficient. The meaning of our lives is hidden within but can only be found and realized by leaving home, by leaving behind the certain and the familiar.

The dream I have inside must be tested, modified, and made real in the world.  To create anything of my life, I have to risk, to go beyond myself.

I must follow my star, trusting that I am being led, by seeing which paths resonate with what is inside.

You never see the whole thing at once. That is what discernment is all about. I have to be humble enough to retrace my steps after a wrong turn.  Marsha Sinetar:

The ability to face conflicts and fears within ourselves, to acknowledge our longing for security, for roots, and unending love and approval and yet at the same time—to remain unswervingly fixed on a certain, insecure path because we sense it to be our right path, is, to my way of thinking, a heroic thing.[2]

Bit by bit, God draws us to find him and ourselves, to find him within and to share him with others by drawing us to Christ.  This is the journey of faith, the vocation, to which each of us is called.

The Wise Men stand for that drawing of God, that pilgrimage to Christ, who wants us to find him, who wants to be known. They, as we, yearned for the truth about our lives that only Jesus can reveal.

They, as we, yearned for a healing they could not articulate, but which they found far from home, kneeling in their best outfits in straw and dung.

For all of us the journey is the same: to turn over events and His words within, to seek Him as the goal, as the guiding star, as the destiny, the end of our lives, to become His disciples, each in our particular way, in the experience of living here and now.

Seek, and you will find Christ weeping beside you in sorrow.  Seek and you will find Him in the events and people of your life, and you will know real joy—which this world cannot give, and this world cannot take away.

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house, found the child with Mary His mother.  They prostrated themselves and did Him homage.

[1] “This Home of Freedom,” Origins.  June 11, 1987 Vol. 17: no. 4 p. 66.

[2] Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics. NY: Paulist, 1986. P. 46.

 

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