Friday, January 7, 2011

The fourth magus...

The Shrine of the Magi (relics) in Cologne, Germany. I have been there!

Let us imagine, merely for devotional purposes, that when the Magi set out to find the King under the Star, there were four of them, not merely three. Over the course of the trip, however, the fourth magus lost heart and turned back. He felt the journey would be too long, the star too hard to triangulate, the intentions of the King too risky to face, and so forth. As we know, it was only three magi that brought their gifts to Christ the Infant King.

Last week at Mass we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany (though it should be celebrated on January 6th, it is all too typical these days for bishops to shunt such feasts to the nearest prior Sunday). The priest, an Indian who arrived in Taiwan only months ago, and therefore who led the whole liturgy and preached by way of a halting oration of notes in Pinyin, made the point that now is Bethlehem, here is Bethlehem. Your home, your job, your social life--all fall under the manger. For, indeed, to paraphrase Chesterton, if such a manger [LINK: PDF!] could hold the Lord of All Creation, surely it holds us in our lordly and not-so-lordly affairs. By celebrating Epiphany, we join ourselves mystically and sacramentally to the adoration the magi gave to Christ. Or perhaps we don't.

The point of this post is to encourage all readers, of suitable disposition, to imagine themselves as the fourth magus as those magi set out to follow the Star. Ask yourself, "Am I prepared to go the whole journey? Am I prepared to submit myself to a King I can know only by faith and only by a light shining in the otherwise consuming darkness? What gift can I offer Him?"

On this earth, we have no lasting home--we are all faced with inadequate vacancy, we are all in Bethlehem. Yet, Christ is among us in His shrouded sovereignty. The Eucharistic altar is the true Manger. Facing that Altar, we are called to be wise like Magi and to offer our best to the King of the Feast. Then, having submitted to His humble Kingship, we are compelled to "return by a different way" (cf. Mt 1:12) to our "normal lives," perhaps even to restore the lost faith of that fourth magus when we get back.

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