Joining the Magi

Let us take to heart that the Light of the World, the Light to lighten the Gentiles, the Light and glory of the Lord, the One who is the Light of all men—let us marvel in godly wonder that He was found by Magi who followed a bright shining star through darkness.414_epiphany_3rd_version

For darkness covered the earth—and not just the earth; for the souls of the Lord’s own people were shrouded in darkness; Herod was governed by dark desires; and thick darkness covered hearts and minds of the chief priests and scribes of the people so that they could not comprehend the very words that they declared to Herod and the Magi.

And so darkness did not comprehend the appearance of the Light of men. Darkness did not comprehend Him; but neither did it envelop Him or snuff Him out. For how can the darkest night extinguish even the dimmest star?

Our Lord’s Spirit is by no means a dim star, but a gleaming light which shines in the east. And Our Blessed Lord is the light which shineth in darkness. Therefore, as the prophet says, the brightness of the Lord’s glory arose and was seen so that even Gentiles walked by His light, and kings in the brightness of His rising.

This, then, is the mystery that we celebrate today: that our mortality, our propensity toward death, desire for things that eventually kill the soul—these always develop in darkness; yet Our Lord mercifully insists on shining through with His mercy so that we “may not lose through ignorance what [He] has wondrously made [us] worthy of holding and possessing through [His] great grace.” (St Peter Chrysologus)

For he who willed to be born for us did not want to remain unknown by us; and so he discloses himself in a way, that the great mystery of his merciful kindness may not become a great occasion of error. (ibid)

Therefore, today we rejoice that Our Lord graciously overcame the dark desires of King Herod, and the darkened hearts of the chief priests and scribes, and the uncomprehending shadows of the Magi.

But most of all, we rejoice this day that our own darkness—our dark desires and benighted plans; and our faith and promises and resolutions that are so easily extinguished—these have not caused Our Lord to withdraw the brightness of His glory. Rather, by His gracious appearing and His determined desire to enlighten our hearts and illumine our minds, and thereby burn away our sinful dross and purify our filthy wills—by His grace, we find ourselves standing with the Magi.

And with them, we “find crying in a cradle the One whom [we were] seeking as he shown among the stars. Today [with] the Magi [we] admire evident in his swaddling clothes the One whom they experienced as hidden for a long time within the constellations. Today [with] the Magi [we] ponder with deep amazement what they see…: heaven on earth, earth in heaven; man in God, God in man; and the One who is not able to be contained in the whole world, [we] see confined in a tiny body.” (ibid)

Let us not let this sight, this vision, this marvel quickly pass us by. Let us not dismiss it as fanciful images, or motivational speech. Let us instead take to heart the Truth that is set before us—the Truth who deigns to love us with such great love, with the love that He truly is, which then enables us to rise above our base desires and escape the grip of death, since He warmly draws us into Himself.

  • As we contemplate this mystery of God’s love and mercy for us miserable and unworthy men;
  • as we take to heart the appearance and manifestation of the goodness and kindness of God our Savior;
  • as we marvel at the mystery of the Light of all men shining into our hearts so that we are no longer enveloped in pitch-darkness;
  • as we weep with joy over the mystery of the grace of God our Savior [which] hath appeared to all men, and which instructs us to live no longer for ourselves but in His newness and life—

As we meditate on these things, let us also not forget, but rather imitate, the Magi. For when they had seen the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Let us also rejoice with exceeding great joy. Let us enter into the Lord’s house often to give thanks.

And let us find here not a mundane routine or a common occurrence. Instead, let us see, by faith, Christ the Lord with Mary His mother.

And then let us fall down and worship Him. And let us, by the mercy of God, offer Him gifts by presenting [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, [which is our] reasonable [liturgy].

For Our Lord arrives and appears and manifests Himself to us, not for His sake, but so that we might always stand with the Magi before Him.

Toward this end, He has instructed us that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Therefore, let us not be conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of [our] mind[s], that [we] may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.

That we might do so with earnest and true hearts, and never depart from the holy light which beams brightly upon us today, let us pray to our patron St Michael; and to the holy Mother of God; to the Holy Apostles; to the martyrs and confessors; and to all the saints. For, by God’s grace, they have attained that for which we still endeavor.

Let us pray that they may strengthen us by their prayers, so that we are not dissuaded by dark desires; and so that, with the aid of their merits, we may persevere in worshiping the Light of all men, Jesus Christ Our Lord, who with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns God, throughout all ages of ages.