4th Sunday O T Year – B – 15

4th Sunday O T Year – B – 15

Deu.18:15-20 / 1Cor.7:32-35 / Mk.1:21-28

Once a government surveyor brought his equipment to a farm, called on the farmer and asked permission to go into one of the fields and take readings. The farmer vigorously objected, fearing that the survey was the first step toward the construction of a highway through his land. “I will not give permission to go into my fields,” said the angry farmer.

Whereupon the surveyor produced an official government document which authorized him to do the survey. “I have the authority,” he said, “to enter any field in the entire country to take necessary readings.” Faced with such authority, the farmer opened the gate and allowed the surveyor to enter the field.

The farmer then went to the far end of the field and opened another gate, through which one of his fiercest bulls came charging. Seeing the raging bull, the surveyor dropped his equipment and ran for his life. The farmer shouted after him: “Show the paper, show him your authority!” The unfortunate surveyor had the authority but the farmer’s bull had the more convincing power.

The philosopher Karl Marx once said that the aim of philosophy should be not just to explain the world but to change the world. The same can be said about the gospel we preach and teach. The people of Capernaum received sacred instruction in their synagogue every Sabbath. One Sabbath they had a different preacher, Jesus.

What Jesus taught them that day, as well as the way he presented and demonstrated his message simply amazed them. Why? “They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mk.1:22). Jesus’ teaching contrasted sharply with that of the scribes. In one word, Jesus taught with authority, the scribes did not.

What does it mean to teach with authority? Comparing and contrasting the teaching of Jesus with that of the scribes we notice three distinguishing qualities: The teaching of Jesus was (a) was from the heart and not just from the head, (b) focuses on the spirit and not on the letter of the law, and (c) brought about a visible change for the better.

Jesus taught from the heart. He taught with absolute conviction in his message because he knew that his message was in accordance with the mind of God. We know this, when Jesus was trying to persuade his unbelieving audience, “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony” (Jn.3:11).

This was possible for Jesus because of his personal and intimate relationship with God his Father. The scribes, on the other hand got their knowledge not from their personal communion with God but from their long and laborious study of the Talmud, a collection of the oral teachings and commentaries on the Law.

A second difference between the teaching of Jesus and that of the scribes lies in the content of the message. Whereas the scribes sought to apply the prescription of the Law to the letter, Jesus went deeper to find out the spirit, the original intent of the law. Take, for example, the law of Sabbath observance.

The scribes would busy themselves trying to determine precisely when the Sabbath begins and ends, and who was at work and who wasn’t. Jesus would rather seek the mind of God who gave the law to His people as an expression of His fatherly care and love. His conclusion is that the Sabbath is a day we keep away from our work in order to do God’s work (Jn.5:17).

On account of this positive accent of his message, people perceived the teaching of Jesus as liberating good news in contrast to that of the scribes which they perceived as a heavy burden. The final difference between the teaching of Jesus and that of the scribes is that the teaching of Jesus was always intended to bring about a visible change for the better. The scribes taught whatever made sense in terms of their understanding of the Law and Traditions.

Take for example the man born blind from birth; the scribes sought to explain why he was blind, whether it was he who sinned or his parents. Jesus, on the other hand was only interested in curing the blindness. For this reason Jesus performed healing and exorcism along with his teaching to show that he was interested in changing the human situation not just in explaining it.

Let us approach Jesus for liberation. Jesus did not use his authority and divine power to rule and control people. He came to make people free.  Hence, let us approach Jesus with trusting faith so that he may free us from the evil spirits that keep us from praying and prevent us from loving and sharing our blessings with others.

He also frees us from all the “evil spirits” of fear, compulsions, selfishness, anger, resentment and hostility. “I have come that they may have life, life in abundance” (Jn.10:10). So Jesus should be the source of liberation for us. May he free us from all those spirits which make us deaf, dumb, blind, lame and paralyzed, physically and spiritually.

Through Word and Sacrament, he brings that power to us and says to the demons in our life, “Be gone!” He says it as often as we need to hear it, over and over again, until by his power we are free from them all. Christ has power over any demon, whether that demon be an addiction, a heartache, a secret sin–whatever our need may be–Christ can set us free.

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. “Well, there’s so much to live for.” “Like what?” “Well, are you religious?””Yes.” “Me too! Are you Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist?” “Christian.” “Me, too!

Are you Catholic or Protestant?” “Protestant.” “Me, too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?””Baptist.” “Wow, me, too! Are you Church of God or Church of the Christ?””Church of God!” “Me, too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God!” “Me, too!

Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic,” and pushed him off.

What is our attitude to the word of God we hear? Do we allow it to challenge us and bring about a difference in our lives or is it simply to satisfy some intellectual curiosity? If it is the gospel of Jesus that we hear, then we cannot hear it week after week and remain the same. Amen.

3rd Sunday, O.T year – B – 15

3rd Sunday, O.T year – B – 15

Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Cor.7:29-31; Mk.1:14-20

There was a Christian lady who had to do a lot of traveling for her business so she did a lot of flying. But flying made her nervous so she always took her Bible along with her to read and it helped relax her. One time she was sitting next to a man. When he saw her pull out her Bible he gave a little chuckle and went back to what he was doing.

After a while he turned to her and asked “You don’t really believe all that stuff in there do you?” The lady replied “Of course I do! It is the Bible.” He said “Well what about that guy that was swallowed by that whale?” She replied “Oh, Jonah. Yes I believe that; it is in the Bible. The Bible says Jonah was swallowed by a whale, and I believe it.

And if it had said that Jonah had swallowed the whale, I would believe that too!” He asked “Well, how do you suppose he survived all that time inside the whale?” The lady said “Well I don’t really know. I guess when I get to Heaven I will ask him.” “What if he isn’t in heaven?” the man asked sarcastically. “Then the lady replied, “You can ask him when you reach the Hell.”

It is remarkable that the people of Nineveh listened to the call of Jonah, so remarkable that it is unbelievable. Nineveh was a terrible city. It certainly is in competition for the worst city in the history of the world. Every record we have from that time tells us that Nineveh was a city of cruel and violent people.

The idea that a prophet would be successful walking through Nineveh shouting out that the city is about to be destroyed because of the sinfulness of the inhabitants is difficult to imagine. What if someone walked into our city and started shouting that the city would be destroyed? Who would believe him? It is more likely that Jonah would be mocked, thought of as a crazy person, beaten, and killed.

Instead the whole city, from the lowliest peasant to the great king, repented of their sins in sackcloth and ashes. God’s call to discipleship, with the response of repentance, conversion and renewal of life expected from us, is the main theme of today’s readings. No matter to what life, work or ministry God calls us, God first calls us to  conversion, to reform, to repentance — to continually becoming new people.

All three readings today underline the absolute necessity of such repentance and ready response to God’s call. The first reading tells us how the  prophet Jonah did not respond quickly when God called him, perhaps because he hated the Gentile people of Nineveh and thought that they were not worthy of God’s gracious mercy.

Jonah ran away. God had to halt Jonah in his flight before the prophet could respond affirmatively to His second call to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. The people of Nineveh, however, promptly responded to God’s word as preached by His prophet. We have no other record of such a repentance ever happening in Nineveh. From being built in 700 BC to its destruction in 612 BC, Nineveh was consistently bad.

So if this repentance really did occur, it must have been very short-lived. Yet let us allow it to be as short-lived as possible, or even to simply be a parable about what would have happened if they had repented, the lesson for us is the same. The worst people in the whole world, if they would repent from their sins, would be forgiven.

The people of Nineveh heard the call of Jonah, and they repented. The first reading shows us that we should respond promptly to God’s call for repentance. The second reading also urges us to be converted and to accept the “Good News’ preached by Jesus. Thinking that the end was near and the second coming of Jesus would happen soon, Paul preferred that no one get married and that slaves not try to gain their freedom.

He tells us to live in total freedom and detachment because nothing we have, whether things or personal attachments, was permanent, and everything could disappear at a moment’s notice. Whether life is very good or very bad, nothing lasts except the fundamental values of truth and love, of freedom and justice.

In the end, it is what we are, not what we have that counts. Hence, he asks us to have the freedom to follow the call of God and to be ready to go wherever Jesus is asking us to go. Our gospel has a similar theme. Andrew, Peter, James, and John were busy. They were fishing. Jesus comes to them and calls them. “Come and follow me.”

They hear the will of God, not in a mysterious way, but clearly, in their own language. Just like the people of Nineveh, they heard a call and they responded immediately, and we know that this is true history and not just a parable. Other people might have told Jesus that they were busy, but these four men were ready when they heard the call to leave everything behind and follow Jesus.

It is relatively common to be looking for a sign from God, but it seems like it is rare to receive one. Yet for some reason this is not how God chooses to reveal his will in the world. It is only on rare occasions that a prophet walks through town threatening destruction unless we repent. It was only once in the history of the world that Jesus walked along the shore of Galilee.

But if we did hear his call, are we ready to respond? The call of God is recorded in Scripture, and we read Scripture at Mass every day. The words of Jesus, “Repent and believe in the Gospel”, are here before us today. Now then that he has chosen us. Despite our sins, despite our weaknesses, he has chosen us for some work he wants to accomplish in this world.

He trusts you and me with some part of his plan to change this world for the better. I do not mean that he will choose you, or that he might choose you. He has chosen you and me. This very moment is the time to respond to the call. “”This is the time of fulfillment”, he says, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” This, right now, this moment, is the time of fulfillment.

“Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Turn away from sins, away from this world, and accept the mission that God has for you and me.

When we accept the mission that God has for you and me, then we can have the greatest renewal. A few years ago Richard Cardinal Cushing wrote:  “If all the sleeping folks will wake up, and all the lukewarm folks will fire up, and all the disgruntled folks will sweeten up, and all the discouraged folks will cheer up, and all the depressed folks will look up, and all the estranged folks will make up, and all the gossiping folks will shut up, and all the dry bones will shake up, and all the true soldiers will stand up, and all the Church members will pray up, and if the Savior of all will be lifted up . . . then we can have the greatest renewal this world has ever known. Amen.”

2nd Sunday O T Year – B – 2015

2nd Sunday O T Year – B – 2015

1 Sam.3:3-10, 19; 1 Cor.6:13-15, 17-20; Jn.1:35-42

A rich Jewish business man named Raymond went to meet Ben, his new son-in-law to be. He said to Ben, “So, tell me, Ben, my boy, what you do?” “I study the Theology, “Ben replied.” But Ben, you are going to marry my daughter! How are you going to feed and house her?” “No problem,” says Ben, “I study Theology, and it says God will provide.” “But you will have children; how will you educate them?” asked Raymond.

“No problem,” says Ben, “I study Theology, and it says God will provide.” When Raymond returned home, his wife anxiously asked him what Ben was like.”Well,” said Raymond, “he’s a lovely boy. I only just met him, and he already thinks I’m God.”

The main theme of today’s readings is Divine vocation. Everyone is called by God to be a witness for Christ by doing something for others, to do something for others with our life and with our unique gifts. Hence, today’s readings remind us of our personal and corporate call to become witnesses for the Lamb of God and to lead lives of holiness and purity.

We are told that each of us, as a Christian, is personally called to discipleship, which demands an ongoing response of commitment. Today’s first reading gives us a beautiful and simple story from the first Book of Samuel. A young boy apprenticing with an old priest, Eli, is awakened by a voice, perhaps a voice he heard in a dream. He thinks Eli is calling him. Eli is wise.

Thinking it to be an illusion he tells the boy to go back to sleep. After the third time Eli begins to realize that perhaps God is really calling the boy and so tells him “If you are called again reply “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Once again we see that God takes the initiative. This is the first and most fundamental realization we all must have.

God offers, we respond. We may not understand the why’s, but we must always be open to God’s initiatives. God’s initiatives come in unexpected ways to unexpected people. For even though young Samuel was just a kid, a kid who was “not familiar with the Lord”, who was not particularly “religious”.

He became God’s first Old Testament prophet, the first in a long line of prophets. So, too, it was with Peter. He wasn’t particularly religious. He was brash, presumptuous, and unreliable, and yet became the chief among the Twelve Apostles, not by his choice and certainly not by theirs. He became the “Rock” who turned out to be so because of God’s choice.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist introduced Jesus to two of his disciples as the, “Lamb of God.”  They followed Jesus to His residence, accepting his call to “come and see.” They went with Him and stayed with Him that day. Then Andrew brought his brother, Simon, to Jesus, introducing Jesus to him as the Messiah. Thus, today’s Gospel describes the call of the first apostles.

John the Baptist gave testimony to Jesus by pointing Him out as the Lamb of God. Andrew called him the Messiah and Nathaniel called Jesus Rabbi, Son of God, and King of Israel. In the Synoptic gospels, Jesus called the disciples away from their fishing boats to follow him. But in the Fourth Gospel, they went to Him at John’s direction rather than in response to Jesus’ call.  Instead of leaving their boats, they left John.

On the second day of Jesus’ public ministry, John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the Jews as the “Lamb of God.” “The Lamb of God” is the most meaningful title given to Jesus in the Bible. It is used 29 times in the book of Revelation. It sums up the love, the sacrifice and the triumph of Christ. John’s introduction might have brought five pictures of the “lamb” to the minds of his Jewish listeners.

They are the Lamb of Atonement, the Lamb of Daily Atonement, the Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of the Prophets, and the Lamb of the Conquerors. Christ as Lamb of God is a title familiar to us. In the opening verses of today’s Gospel, John points out to his disciples that the One who is passing by is the “Lamb of God.” Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus who turns and asks them what they are seeking. Somewhat confused, they ask Jesus where he is staying.

Jesus does not tell them. Instead, he invites them to “come and see.” For each of us, belief in Jesus develops in stages, which John appears to be describing. First, we respond to testimony given by others. Then, having “seen” where Jesus dwells – within believers, as individuals and as community – we move to commitment. Finally, our conversion is completed when we become witnesses for Jesus.

God has a Word for you and me. He has something to say to you and me. God has something in mind for you and me personally and individually. Are we willing to listen up and pay attention to Him? Willing to take a good look at what He’s trying to say to us or trying to ask us to do?

There are hurdles we face, hindrances and attitudes that we simply must overcome. Have we heard ourselves say: “Why would God have anything to say to little me? In the great scheme of things, I’m nobody.” “I just don’t have the time right now. May be later.” “When I’m living in retirement I’ll have time to really pray.” Here are some practical suggestions for all of us:

  1. Believe that god has something to say to you; believe that god loves you close up and


  1. We need to be, beware of false humility. We think that we’re such a bad person that God wouldn’t want to have anything to do with us. Remember that Jesus Christ has died for you and me. He makes us worthy of God’s love. We don’t make ourselves worthy. It is He who makes us worthy.
  2. We need to recognize that false humility is really just another form of denial, or of pride. It makes us think we’re really someone special, one of the world’s greatest sinners. This just isn’t true. It’s just another excuse for not letting ourselves get near God’s love.
  3. We need to take time to reflect and pray, paying attention to events as well as things people say to us.
  4. We need to be open to see and hear things. God, after all, is trying to get in touch with us.

Like the missionary call of Samuel and the apostles, we too are called. Our call is to rebuild broken lives, reconciling them to God’s love and justice through Christ Jesus, our Lamb and Lord. God has a Word for you and me. He has something He wants to say to you and me. Let us begin our next time of prayer with these words: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Amen.


A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in Church on vocation to priesthood and religious life. Suddenly the red sanctuary lamp caught his eye. Tugging his father’s sleeve, he said, “Daddy, when the light turns green can we go home?”

A Catholic boy and a Jewish boy were talking and the Catholic boy said, “My priest knows more than your rabbi.” The Jewish boy immediately said, “Of course he does! That is because you tell him everything in confession.”

The Baptism of the Lord – Year – B – 15

The Baptism of the Lord – Year – B – 15

Is.55:1-11; 1 Jn.5:1-9; Mk.1:7-11

A man was down the country travelling along by-roads where the signposts were few and far between. After a while, unsure of his directions, he decided to ask the first person he saw. When he came across a farmer driving his cows home for milking he stopped the car and asked if he was on the right road to Mallow. The farmer told him that he certainly was on the Mallow road.

The driver thanked him and was about to move forward when the farmer added, in a nonchalant way, “you’re on the right road, but you’re going in the wrong direction!’ Today’s reflection of Jesus’ baptism challenges us to examine whether we are on the right road and moving in the right direction for our eternal destiny.

The sacrament I like celebrating the most is the sacrament of baptism. It is always a happy occasion. Two young children have recently been received into their family with great joy and celebration, and now they are being received again into another family, the family of the church. In being received into this family, the children become our brothers and sisters in the Lord, sons and daughters of God, and temples of the Spirit.

The joy of the occasion is palpable, especially when the parents and godparents come up to the baptismal font and the water is poured over the head of the child by the celebrant. Each child is anointed before and after baptism with special oil, the oil of catechumens and the oil of chrism; the baptismal shawl is placed around the child and the baptismal candle is lit. The whole occasion is somehow uplifting in a way that is unique to that sacrament.

Today we celebrate the feast of the baptism of Jesus. The Baptism of Jesus is the great event celebrated after the feast of Epiphany because it is the occasion of the first public revelation of all the Three Persons in the Holy Trinity, and the official revelation of Jesus as the Son of God to the world by God the Father. Hence, it is described by all four Gospels. It marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

Jesus’ baptism by John was a very important event in the life of Jesus. First it was a moment of identification with us sinners. Sinless, Jesus received the baptism of repentance to identify himself with his people who realized for the first time that they were sinners.

Second, it was a moment of conviction about his identity and mission: that He is the Son of God and His mission was to preach the Good News of God’s love and salvation and to atone for our sins by becoming the “suffering servant.” God the Father’s words, “This is my beloved Son,” taken from Psalm 2:17, gave Jesus the identity of God’s Son.

And the words “with whom I am well pleased,” from Isaiah 42:1, pointed to Jesus’ mission of atoning for the sins of the world by His suffering and death on the cross. Third, it was a moment of equipment. The Holy Spirit equipped Jesus by descending on him in the form of dove, giving him the power of preaching and healing.

Fourth, it was a moment of decision to begin public ministry at the most opportune time after receiving the approval of his Heavenly Father as His beloved Son.

Before performing a Baptism the priest approached the young father and said solemnly, “Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?” “I think so,” the man replied. “My wife has made appetizers and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of cookies and cakes for all of the guests.” “I don’t mean that.” The priest responded. “I mean, are you prepared spiritually?” “Oh came the reply. “I’ve got a keg of beer and a case of whiskey.”

The Feast of the Lord’s Baptism is also an occasion for us to go over our own baptism. This could be more urgent especially now that baptism has been reduced to a social occasion, devoid of its spiritual meaning. We need to go back to the true sense of this sacrament.

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a good day for cultivating gratitude for the graces that flow from the One who descended into the waters of the Jordan so that our sins might be washed away. How can we cultivate gratitude in our spiritual life? The most obvious answer is to say “Thank you” to God during our daily prayers, whether first thing in the morning or before going to sleep.

But there are even simpler ways to cultivate gratitude for the gift of supernatural life. Last year Pope Francis gave some very practical advice about the Sacrament of Baptism: “It is important to know the day on which [one] was immersed in that river of Jesus’ salvation. And I will allow myself to give you some advice…

Today, at home, go look, ask about (or make sure) the date of your Baptism; that way you will keep in mind that most beautiful day of Baptism. The danger of not knowing is that we can lose awareness of what the Lord has done in us, the memory of the gift we have received. We are called to live out our Baptism every day as the present reality of our lives.”

So the Pope himself has asked you to memorize the date of your baptism. Within families, the date of each member’s baptism ought to be celebrated with at least as much importance as one’s birthday. After all, the anniversary of a person’s birth is for celebrating one’s first step—so to speak—into this world.

But the anniversary of a person’s baptism is for celebrating one’s first step towards Heaven! In some homes on a family member’s baptismal day, that person’s baptismal candle is brought out, placed on the dinner table, and lit as part of celebrating with gratitude the gifts first given at baptism. There are four gifts given, or four changes that happened to you at the moment that you were baptized.

For each of these we need to express gratitude to God. The first change was a washing away of something negative: all of your sins, both Original Sin and any personal sins. But this cleansing was simply preparatory for the other three changes: that is, the gifts that positively strengthened you. These three are inter-twined.

At the moment of your baptism, God made you His own child by infusing you with the divine virtues of faith, hope, and love. At the same time, you were incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. Any time that a person becomes God’s child, it’s as one member of the Body of Christ.

So in this sense, Baptism united you not only to God, but also to all the other members of the Church. This new life of Baptism is about gaining not just a spiritual Father, but an entire spiritual family!

Yes, the baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity. It reminds us of who we are and Whose we are.  By Baptism we become sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of his Church, heirs of heaven and temples of the Holy Spirit.

It is a day to thank God for the graces we have received in Baptism, to renew our Baptismal promises and to preach Christ’s “Good News” by our transparent Christian lives of love, mercy, service and forgiveness. Amen.

Epiphany of the Lord Year – B – 2015

Epiphany of the Lord Year – B – 15

Is.60:1-6; Eph.3:2-3,5-6; Mt.2:1-12

On an extremely cold morning three palm fruit farmers were warming themselves by the fireside. Soon two of them were engaged in a heated debate comparing their religions to decide which one was the true religion. Okoro, the oldest among them, sat quietly listening to the debate. Suddenly the two turned to him and asked, “Decide for us, Okoro. Which religions is the right one?”

Okoro rubbed his white beard and said thoughtfully, “Well, you know there are three ways to get from here to the oil mill. You can go right over the hill. That is shorter but it is a steep climb. You can go around the hill on the right side. That is not too far, but the road is rough and full of potholes. Or you can go around the hill on the left side. That is the longest way, but it is also the easiest.”

He paused and then added, “But you know when you get there, the mill man doesn’t ask you how you came. All he asks is, ‘Man, how good is your fruit?’” The wondrous truth we celebrate during this time of Christmas is that God in His love has journeyed from the heavens above all the way down to us. We will never comprehend that stupendous journey, the enormity of God’s love for us, a love that is infinite in its length, height, and depth.

Love will not rest until it achieves union and rests in intimacy. And so God in His quest is here, not only here among us but living deep within us. That is the story of Christmas and Epiphany. What is not of this world has entered into our world, and not only into our world but into us. We know that Christmas-time is the busiest time of the year for travelling. It is the time when we reunite with our families.

When we travel we go to our maps, we call up MapQuest on our computers, and we enter our destinations into our GPS systems. But what are we looking for?  In other words, “If you don’t know where you are going you might not get there.” So, we might ask: “Do I really know what I want and how to get there? What sort of a spiritual MapQuest am I using in my travel, in my journey through life?

Today’s Gospel account begins with the question of the Wise Men: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? Where do we find Him?” Many people in the world around us ask that same question. Perhaps some have asked you that question. The question “Where do we find Him” has within it a quest, a searching, a journey. The word “question,” we must note, has within it the word “quest.”

We all have our own quests, our own journeys that we are making through life. What are we looking for, material things or spiritual things, things that will last or things that won’t last? What is material won’t last, what is spiritual is everlasting. What is material eventually leads to darkness; what is spiritual leads us into God’s light, a light that has overcome darkness that surrounds us.

What is spiritual frees us, what is material captures us. For us, the question is not what we are looking for but rather who we are looking for. Epiphany is all about movement, all about our journey. The Magi had access to what the forces of nature revealed to them. The Star of Bethlehem was their heavenly GPS system guiding them to the destination they were seeking.

Herod the king was blinded in the darkness of his jealously and hatred. The Magi, who were themselves kings, sought the kingship of God. The Magi made their journey to seek the King of the Jews. Herod, a Jew, sought to kill the King of the Jews, the King who was sent by God not only to the Jews but to all of the peoples of this world. That is why at Christmas we celebrate the birth of the King of the Jews.

At Epiphany we celebrate the birth of Christ the King of us all, Jew and gentile alike. Ours is a journey of hope, a hope that is given substance by our faith in Jesus Christ. The journey of the Wise Men wasn’t just their own. Their journey is ours also. We are fellow travelers with those Wise Men. Wise men today still seek Him. Ours is a life-time journey.

The Magi were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod, because they believed the Scriptures, the words of the prophets which indicated that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. And so they fled the darkness and dreariness of the night of the world. They resumed their journey towards Bethlehem and there they once more saw the star, and the gospel tells us that they experienced “a great joy” (Mt 2:10).

One aspect of the light which guides us on the journey of faith is holy “cunning”. This holy “cunning” is also a virtue. It consists of a spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and avoid it. The Magi used this light of “cunning” when, on the way back, they decided not to pass by the gloomy palace of Herod, but to take another route.

These wise men from the East teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life. By this holy “cunning”, the Magi guarded the faith. We too need to guard the faith, guard it from darkness. We need to cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness, as Jesus told his disciples: “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16).

On the feast of the Epiphany, as we recall Jesus’ manifestation to humanity in the face of a Child, may we sense the Magi at our side, as wise companions on the way. Their example helps us to lift our gaze towards the star and to follow the great desires of our heart. They teach us not to be deceived by appearances, by what the world considers great, wise and powerful.

The Magi are a symbol of our own journeys, journeys to the home from which we came, journeys back home to God our Father. We cannot claim that we do not know the way or do not know how to get there. Following in Jesus’ way of living, seeing the truth that He gives us, and living life in loving union with Him is not our destination. It is rather our journey.

We are empowered by the hope that He gives us. All journeys begin with hope. Hope, we must remember, isn’t simply wishful thinking. Hope isn’t simply a nice feeling. Hope is a virtue, a power, a capacity that is a gift of God. Without hope we do not act. Every decision we make is based on hope. Without hope we are paralyzed. Without hope we are powerless.

May you and I join the Wise Men both in their journey and in giving our gifts of our heart to the One who is God’s gift to us.