The Epiphany of the Lord (Mt 2:1-12)

For many of us—we men especially—asking for directions is often a difficult task, primarily because it might appear to be a sign of weakness to have to seek the assistance of others, or heaven forbid, a recognition that we are completely lost with absolutely no idea where we are or how we got here.  If only we had a map tucked away inside our head that could guide us everywhere we wished to go. Life would be so much more enjoyable if only it weren’t so unpredictable.

Two Roads Diverge

Two Roads Diverge

But we don’t have maps in our heads and we never know what surprises await us just around the next bend.  No matter how much we might wish to be able to see into the future, to anticipate what is in store for us, the reality is that life is a journey that requires countless course corrections. Or as Paul Simon sings, we “believe we’re gliding down the highway when in fact we’re slip sliding away.”

The future remains unknowable and while that can be exciting and intriguing, giving us the chance to determine our own personal destinies, it can be frightening and daunting, holding us back, even causing us to reverse course, seeking a safe place to hide.  Sometimes, we have to find another road, go in a new direction, and have an epiphany that changes everything. An epiphany occurs when we suddenly get it; it is that “AHAH” moment when something ordinary turns into the extraordinary.

Epiphany is about changing course, going in a new direction and it happens to all of us.  It happened to the Magi and the shepherds and it happens to each and every one of us as we live out our lives. Every day we start fresh, with expectations for what lies ahead but with an awareness that circumstances may require us to travel a different and unexpected road. At times we may be forced to swerve or slow down for a pothole or a bump in the road—like a chance encounter with a stranger, a passing billboard message, or even a gentle breeze. Or we may encounter a major obstacle that forces us to completely change direction or choose a different path, such as the loss of a job, a sudden illness, or even the death of a loved one.

And yet Epiphany reminds us that despite our uncertainties and doubt, despite the frequent and unexpected course corrections, roadside assistance is always available. We may never have a star to guide us as did the Magi or have heavenly hosts give us directions as did the shepherds but we can trust that God will show us the way if only we open our hearts and minds to hear His voice.

We are told that the Magi went back by “another way”, not just geographically, but with an entirely new perspective on life and God. They traveled with a new spirit, filled with wonder, awe, and thanksgiving for having met their savior.

The Magi, who came from the east, followed the star westward. They left the familiar and traveled toward the unknown. They had nothing but the star to guide them and had no idea where it would lead them or how long the journey would take.  Yet they made the journey.

The uncertainties of life, meeting the unknowable and accepting what life presents you with open arms is what life is all about. Seeing, touching, hearing God in all that surrounds you is to recognize that all of the gifts you have were given to you by Him and that He will never send you down a path you cannot take.

Epiphanies often occur when we least expect them; we only have to be open to receive them when they come to us. Recently I came across a question that caused me to pause—to consider the answer—to have an “AHAH” moment. I believe it has caused me to change direction, even if only a small change, but a change nevertheless. Perhaps you will have an epiphany as well. The question was “What if you woke up tomorrow and all you had was what you thanked God for today?

God has given so much to each of us; our lives are certain evidence of His grace and abundant love. No matter what difficulties we encounter, what obstacles are placed in front of us, we need to give praise to God for all that He has provided.

The Magi traveled a great journey for the chance to see a king they had never met and did not know.  Their journey was certainly unpredictable and uncertain; they were forced to make difficult decisions but they followed the star to the end and that made all the difference.

Robert Frost ends his classic poem “The Road Not Taken” with this verse:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I pray that today and for the remainder of our lives we choose the path to God, the one less traveled by, for by doing so we too will make all the difference.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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