The Feast of the Epiphany reminds me a bit of Abraham. Why would anyone travel across the desert, plagued with bandits and thieves, at their own personal risk? With Abraham, there was a promise he was given: he would receive the land, and a great nation would come from one of his descendants.
The Wise Men traveled the same distance, if not more, for only a glimpse at a king, who was not old enough to voice a claim for His Kingdom. They would gain nothing from this experience in terms of power or wealth. Apparently the hard journey, the danger, the reward at the end of their quest, the wealth they spent on their costly gifts, would be a small glimpse at the greatest man who would ever exist. There's no getting around it...they took this journey for their own edification.
Normally, we would laugh and call them foolish, idiots, or perhaps star-struck (after all, they searched the skies for signs). In fact, unless we have ever put hard work and risk into anything, it would be impossible to understand them.
Even for those that have gone "all-in" for one reason or another, the journey of the Magi is nothing short of astounding. First of all, what a conviction the Magi must have had to believe that there would be a king at the end of their journey. This wasn't some haphazard hope, it could only be a firm conviction. Furthermore, they didn't know the exact location because they had to stop and ask for directions. How often have I had firm resolutions but complained or dragged my feet because I couldn’t see my path perfectly in front of me? Three foreigners from different religions didn't demand for life to be that clear. Why should I?
Finally, the Scriptures are stunningly silent about the Wise Mens' reactions. All we know is that they were overjoyed, paid Christ homage, delivered the goods, and peaced out before Herod could follow. Hello? All that way and that's all we learn about the big meeting?!? Perhaps the Scriptures are silent in this regard on purpose. I am constantly called to encounter Christ in a way far more intimate than the Wise Men when I receive communion. I have the opportunity to have what the Wise Men did not, but somehow I miss the joy, the intimacy, the reverence, the shock of delight that surely coursed through their bodies when they saw Christ for the first and only time on earth.
Merciful Father, in your Wisdom, teach me how to encounter your Son, so that I may reverence Christ in the same way the Wise Men did.
~ Written by Sister M. Joan