Solemnity of the
Epiphany of the Lord
January 8, 2017
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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To be a Christian is a challenge. There was a time when the culture and circumstances helped people to believe and practice their faith. Now, the cultural and social context no longer supports a life of faith and virtue. The important question for us is how to deal with this situation. Some authors say that the Christian of the twenty-first century has to be an “intentional disciple.” There is a need for people with personal convictions, people who are in search of God, people who experience a personal encounter with Christ, and people who act according to the faith they profess.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we find an example of what it means to be an “intentional disciple” in the mysterious figures of the Magi who came from the East. In their journey, we can find a model for our spiritual journey.

Arriving in Jerusalem, the Magi asked Herod: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” (Mt 2:2). In this question, we see that the Magi were men in search of God. They were trying to find meaning for their lives. They were rich in wisdom but poor in spirit, unsatisfied by what they had. They were looking for more, for something greater. Due to their restlessness, they embarked upon a journey, following a star. A couple of days ago, Pope Francis declared: “… it is necessary to search for God to find Him, and to find him in order to seek him again, and forever.”

It is important to ask ourselves whether we are searching for God in our lives. Are we really looking for God in what matters for us? Are we trying to find God in what we love, in what we do and in what we have?

After a long journey, the Magi finally found the One whom they were seeking: “They prostrated themselves and did him homage.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” (1) It is too easy to take our encounter with Christ for granted. We must constantly renew it. The Magi did not merely encounter Him but they adored Him. Encounter leads to adoration. Adoration is the deepening of the encounter. Thus, we understand how important prayer is for keeping our relationship with Christ alive.

The Magi not only adored the Baby Jesus but they also “[…] offered him gifts […].” The surprise of the encounter and the wonder of God’s love invite and elicit a response from us. The undeserved gift of God received and the experience of gratitude require our own self-giving. The Magi offered the best they could. In what they offered Jesus, they gave themselves to the One who called them from a far land. Christian life is to respond to God’s gratuitous initiative. The fulfillment of the commandments and a moral life are our responses to the love that loved us first. We need to give back, to reciprocate for what we have received from above. Our encounter with Christ changes our lives and we act accordingly. The witness that we are invited to bear to the world is a different and more humane way of living.

Let us ask for the grace of becoming “intentional disciples,” to be people who are searching for God, renewing their encounter with Him and testifying through their lives to the grace of the love received.  Amen.

(1) Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005.

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