Epiphany 2014

Herod was horrid.  It does not take much study to know that.  Herod was horrid and it is not surprising that when the Magi announced that they had seen a star announcing the new born king of the Jews, he is threatened and nervous.  Horrid Herod checks himself, (“I don’t think I have fathered any new born king of the Jews recently”) and then wrecks himself by trying to have the Magi reveal the location of the child so, as he lied, he might pay him homage too.  We are not surprised by Herod’s reaction.  But the Gospel also says that all of Jerusalem was troubled with him even though salvation had dawned just a few miles away.  Even the people shared the fears of Herod. If they had let go of their fears all their desires would be satisfied by truly giving homage to the child in Bethlehem, even Horrid Herod.

There is always anxiety about change, even when the change promises something beautiful.  Our first reaction to change is how it will affect me or my status.  The fear of the unknowable about change makes us protective against it.  In the most desperate of spots, people resist change because even if they are not peaceful, even if they are not safe, they prefer the current situation because at least that is what they are used to.

But God has others plans for our growth and our peace.  God has invited us to grow more deeply in love all the while knowing that love is a disruptive force.  God sends stars up in the sky and says, “Go get them, for there you will find my son.” 

We rarely have an epiphany while just standing around.  If we never look up, we will never see a star.  How can we embrace the surprised hidden in our lives?  How can we say yes to something so radical as divine love when offered it? I think it requires two gifs that every Christian must possess – creativity and risk taking.  God is that which is wholly not us – eternal, all-knowing and all powerful.    Yet, God breaks that rules by sending down his son so that he may truly become one with us.  That God might be seen and understood not only as divine majesty, but as a brother as well.  We must have creative eyes and hearts to continue to see the incarnation, how Christ remains present in nature, in our relationships and in ourselves. 

That is why the arts so important to every Christian.  It is not only that we learn to express God’s beauty, but that we might train ourselves to widen our mind and spirit to experience God’s beauty, to fathom the awesome creative and audacious act of incarnation. 

Secondly, we must be risk takers.  Now this is the part of the homily where I am supposed to say, “I don’t mean outrageous and reckless risk.”  But today is Epiphany and isn’t that what we celebrate?  Don’t you think seeing a star, calculating it to mean there is a new born king of the Jews and leaving everything behind to travel to a foreign land to distribute valuable gifts to a humble, poor child is pretty outrageous and risky?  I think that is exactly the kind of risk we are called to take.  We associate reckless risk with daredevils, with people who risk for the sake of risking.  But a radical risk in the name of love, a radical risk to find Jesus Christ:  that is the making of a saint.  Yes, there are still pitfalls and dangers, but it is a journey made in the accompaniment of the Spirit.  It is the only path to peace.

For I firmly believe that every Christian has a star that beckons; that each of us is called to a more radical place of love and a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Every Christian has a star that beckons and challenges to care more profoundly and widely; to stand up to oppression and to be peacemakers, children of God.  Every Christian as a star that beckons to discover that the incarnation is not a story of long ago, but is a treasure found everywhere for Christ so deeply has he penetrated our world.   Every Christian has a star that beckons them toward God and we are called to follow it wherever it leads.